Zhang Yimou

Zhang Yimou

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Zhang Yimou's Coming Home Trailer


Lu Yanshi is ripped away from his family and arrested as a political prisoner during China's Cultural Revolution, forced to work in a merciless labour camp. He makes a futile escape attempt in a plan with his daughter Wanyu, but he is soon re-captured and put back to work. Some years later, he is finally freed when the Revolution comes to an end, but he is less than welcomed when he returns home. His wife has suffered an accident which has left her with permanent amnesia and she is unable to recognise her husband upon his return. She shuns Yanshi, and continues to wait for her husband's return, and so he does what he can to jog her memory and convince her that it's him. When that fails, he must find another way to remain close to her - but that may mean abandoning their marriage.

Continue: Zhang Yimou's Coming Home Trailer

The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival - Coming Home - Premiere

Huiwen Zhang (l), Gong Li (r) and director Zhang Yimou - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival - Coming Home - Premiere - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 21st May 2014

Gong Li, Huiwen Zhang (l) and Zhang Yimou
Gong Li

Curse Of The Golden Flower Review


Weak
A pageantry of pageantry that would put Bertolucci or Lean to shame, Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower piles spectacle upon spectacle, and tragedy on top of tragedy, until the whole contraption fairly disintegrates under the fervid weight of it all. Normally this wouldn't really be an issue, as late period Yimou films like House of Flying Daggers and Hero have been perfectly acceptable as period-piece baubles, rife with dynamic wuxia action sequences and dashing costumes -- things that Golden Flower has in abundance. While packed with emotion, those earlier films could certainly be enjoyed on surface detail alone, but there was still some heft to them; one doesn't buy for a second that Zhang Ziyi could fight like that without some help from gravity-defying wires, but the films were still able to dance that line between escapism and drama without leaving either behind. But Golden Flower can't dance.

Set in a royal court during the 10th century Tang dynasty, Golden Flower starts in and spends most of its time inside those same palace walls; which at first doesn't seem like a bad place to be. The place is a bejeweled rainbow of color, splashed with sunlight that sparkles off the golds, reds, and greens, and the camera greedily prowls its corridors looking for fresh spectacle. Yimou starts off with a feverishly choreographed ballet of servitude as hundreds of courtiers ready themselves in synchronized grace for the arrival of the long-traveling Emperor Ping (Chow Yun-Fat, regally villainous). His three princes await him, each curious about how and if he is going to divide up power between them, as his health seems to be in decline.

Continue reading: Curse Of The Golden Flower Review

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles Review


OK
So, you're a director; a Chinese director, to be exact. You've just hit the peak of your career with a huge box office success (Hero) and a monster critical success (The House of Flying Daggers). In the Western eye, you are the man for martial arts films. So how do you follow this up? What great feat of imagery and ass-kicking could possibly follow this win? If you're Zhang Yimou, you don't try. You just go back to what you did before those: small art-house character pieces.

Gou-ichi (the great Ken Takakura) makes a modest living as a fisherman in Japan, and lives a very lonesome existence away from family. Ken-ichi (Kiichi Nakai), his son, especially, wants nothing to do with him due to some unnamed conflict. When he finds out his son has liver cancer, however, he rushes to his bedside but is denied by the son's constant grudge. Instead, he is met by Rie (Shinobu Terajima), his daughter-in-law, who gives him a tape of footage his son took of legendary opera star Li Jiamin (the Chinese opera performer plays himself). Sadly, Jiamin couldn't sing the son's favorite song, "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," but promised Ken-ichi he would perform it the next time he toured in front of the camera. Moved by the terminal state of his son, Gou-ichi sets himself on a journey to China to videotape the singer and possibly stitch up the rift between him and his son.

Continue reading: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles Review

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles Review


OK
So, you're a director; a Chinese director, to be exact. You've just hit the peak of your career with a huge box office success (Hero) and a monster critical success (The House of Flying Daggers). In the Western eye, you are the man for martial arts films. So how do you follow this up? What great feat of imagery and ass-kicking could possibly follow this win? If you're Zhang Yimou, you don't try. You just go back to what you did before those: small art-house character pieces.

Gou-ichi (the great Ken Takakura) makes a modest living as a fisherman in Japan, and lives a very lonesome existence away from family. Ken-ichi (Kiichi Nakai), his son, especially, wants nothing to do with him due to some unnamed conflict. When he finds out his son has liver cancer, however, he rushes to his bedside but is denied by the son's constant grudge. Instead, he is met by Rie (Shinobu Terajima), his daughter-in-law, who gives him a tape of footage his son took of legendary opera star Li Jiamin (the Chinese opera performer plays himself). Sadly, Jiamin couldn't sing the son's favorite song, "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," but promised Ken-ichi he would perform it the next time he toured in front of the camera. Moved by the terminal state of his son, Gou-ichi sets himself on a journey to China to videotape the singer and possibly stitch up the rift between him and his son.

Continue reading: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles Review

Curse Of The Golden Flower Review


Weak
A pageantry of pageantry that would put Bertolucci or Lean to shame, Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower piles spectacle upon spectacle, and tragedy on top of tragedy, until the whole contraption fairly disintegrates under the fervid weight of it all. Normally this wouldn't really be an issue, as late period Yimou films like House of Flying Daggers and Hero have been perfectly acceptable as period-piece baubles, rife with dynamic wuxia action sequences and dashing costumes -- things that Golden Flower has in abundance. While packed with emotion, those earlier films could certainly be enjoyed on surface detail alone, but there was still some heft to them; one doesn't buy for a second that Zhang Ziyi could fight like that without some help from gravity-defying wires, but the films were still able to dance that line between escapism and drama without leaving either behind. But Golden Flower can't dance.

Set in a royal court during the 10th century Tang dynasty, Golden Flower starts in and spends most of its time inside those same palace walls; which at first doesn't seem like a bad place to be. The place is a bejeweled rainbow of color, splashed with sunlight that sparkles off the golds, reds, and greens, and the camera greedily prowls its corridors looking for fresh spectacle. Yimou starts off with a feverishly choreographed ballet of servitude as hundreds of courtiers ready themselves in synchronized grace for the arrival of the long-traveling Emperor Ping (Chow Yun-Fat, regally villainous). His three princes await him, each curious about how and if he is going to divide up power between them, as his health seems to be in decline.

Continue reading: Curse Of The Golden Flower Review

The House of Flying Daggers Review


Excellent
A poet of the small gesture, Zhang Yimou moves on from his slice-of-life dramas Not One Less and Happy Times to the more broad, operatic strokes of Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. The resulting House is an astonishing work of cinematic beauty; filled with strong primary colors and evocative storybook forests of green bamboo or autumn leaves. The sound design is remarkable, staging a series of ritualistic combat scenes between policemen and assassins that are stunning in their brevity -- focusing the attention on the swish of cloth, the murmur of breath, or the rush of a cool breeze.

That said, House of Flying Daggers is basically a love triangle set against the backdrop of an epic political struggle. As the Tang Dynasty wanes and the emperor drowns in incompetence and sloth, an underground movement known as the House of Flying Daggers takes action, Robin Hood style. As they rob from the rich and give to the poor, the police decide to infiltrate this underground through the capture of their sleeper agent, a blind dancer, Mei (Zhang Ziyi), hiding out at the classiest brothel in town. She is drawn out by police captains Leo (Andy Lau), a stern disciplinarian, and flirtatious pretty boy Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro).

Continue reading: The House of Flying Daggers Review

Hero (2002) Review


Excellent
After political (Raise the Red Lantern), sexy (Ju Dou) and reflective (The Road Home) films, writer-director Zhang Yimou embraces the aerodynamic action of digitally enhanced kung fu swordplay made famous in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The object here is to outdazzle that genre landmark and, perhaps, to outdo it at the box office.

It's probably too late and too familiar a technique to do either, but there's plenty to admire despite those limitations, for which it has already received critical and award level acclaim. At the time of this writing, it is one of the 2002 Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.

Continue reading: Hero (2002) Review

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