Abandoned by her parents and raised grudgingly by a collection of disinterested relatives, the pretty Yan'ni (Jun Wu), who hides her beauty under a black knit wool hat, grows up alone and miserable. It's a miracle when she's accepted at a university in Beijing, and away she goes, hoping for some kind of new life.
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Continue reading: Suzhou River Review
Set in third century B.C., The Emperor and the Assassin is the story of Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian), leader of the Kingdom of Qin, whose goal is to conquer the six other kingdoms of China and merge them into one unified land. To accomplish this objective, he embarks upon a horrific reign of terror and brutality against all who stand between him and his destiny.
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Set amid lush mountains in an isolated region in China in the early 1970s, Dai gives us a gently paced semi-autobiographical account of two teenage boys, Ma (Ye Liu) and Luo (Kun Chen) who arrive at a Maoist camp for "re-education." Because they are the offspring of the "reactionary" elite -- the very class that Mao sought to purge during his Cultural Revolution -- the boys are prescribed a daily regimen of lugging buckets of shit to fertilize the local rice fields alternated with tedious shifts in a copper mine. Through Dai's eyes, though, what ordinarily might be a rather bleak portrayal of suffering is viewed through rose-tinted lenses. The Communist Committee chief of their village (Shuangbao Wang) is, true to fashion, a by-the-book ideologue. He wants to come off as a hardliner, but he's won over easily enough by Ma's claim that the Mozart lieder he plays on his violin is, in fact, a tribute to Mao. This would be fine if it led to a more complex dynamic between the chief and the boys, but this cheeky repartee goes no further.
Continue reading: Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress Review
The Emperor and the Assassin sets a new standard for quality of production. The...