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Suggestions on Titles Dealing with China, Please. (1 Viewer)

GerardoHP

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Gerardo Paron
I just got back from an amazing seven-city trip to China and can't wait to sink my teeth (and eyes and ears) into films that deal with that country's history, legends and tales. THE LAST EMPEROR and EMPIRE OF THE SUN are my first obvious mainstream choices, of course, but I would love some suggestions from those of you who have an appreciation for this kind of film. Thanks.
 

Dave Yeung

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Jan 30, 1998
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Here are some more suggestions. I'll group them by directors:

Yimou Zhang:
Raise the Red Lantern
To Live
Hero (as mentioned already)

Ang Lee:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Eat Drink Man Woman (This is a Taiwan film, but the chinese cooking is delicious!)

Kaige Chen
Farewell My Concubine
Emperor and the Assassin, The (or the Assissin)
Yellow Earth (Not on DVD, probably in VHS)

and other Chinese or Hong Kong directors:

Tsui Hark: Once Upon a time in China Trilogy(Starring Jet Li)
John Woo: Killer, and Hard-Boiled
Wong Kar Wai: In the Mood for Love
Wayne Wong: The Joy Luck Club
 

GerardoHP

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Gerardo Paron
I saw HERO twice before my trip. Obviously, that means I loved it and can't wait for it to be on DVD.

Dave, do any of the above titles deal with the history of China? I'm really interested in films that tell the history of different events in Chinese history, like the building of the Great Wall, the 1949 revolution or the clay warriors of Xi'an, whether they are propagandistic or not. Anyone?
 

PaulaJ

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Oct 9, 2000
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696
The Emperor's Shadow (1996)

A mainland epic about the same king/emperor who unified China currently on view in Zhang Yimou's Hero...

Here's a mini-review from the Chinesecinemas.org page:

The Emperor's Shadow

(Qin song)

PRC, Hong Kong, 1996 director Zhou Xiaowen ; starring Ge You, Jiang Wen, Xu Qing; screenplay by Lu Wei; music: Zhao Jiping

A huge, sweeping, gorgeous, cast-of-thousands epic about the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang. The focus of the movie is actually quite precise, on the Qin Emperor (Jiang Wen) and his childhood friend turned famous musician Gao Jianli (played by Ge You). Brilliant performances by two of China's finest actors, in a psychological thriller set inside a historical melodrama. The large ceremonial scenes were thrilling to watch, the music by 5th generation house composer Zhao Jiping was stunning.

But the whole thing seemed a bit, well, stiff and intellectualized. In a real crisis year for Chinese filmmaking (the political climate is as restrictive as it's ever been since the early 1980's right now), you can almost feel Zhou Xiaowen carefully exploring the relationship between absolute, despotic power (the Emperor) and the free creation of art (the musician). The plot revolves around the Emperor's need to have Gao write him a "national anthem", and Gao's reluctance to put his great art in the service of power. Zhou outlines power's need to be completed, ratified, blessed by culture, and culture's ability to resist. Sophisticated stories, in a visually splendid package. I hope this has a chance of getting released internationally.
 

Garrett Lundy

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Shaolin Soccer. It tells the historical tale of the good soccer team that defeats the evil soccer team (no seriously, the team name is 'Evil Team'). :D

Iron Monkey is a 'Robin Hood' type of legendary hero... possibly inspired by the real life Wong Fei-Hung? There are dozens of films dealing with the doctor/martial artist who was something of a real-life robin hood during the Boxer Rebellion. I'm not aware of any Wong Fei-Hung movies that claim to be historical documentaries... most are just entertaining films. Kinda like Westerns.
 

ThomasC

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Dec 15, 2001
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Thomas
Gerardo, of the films in Dave's list, To Live, Farewell My Concubine, and Yellow Earth definitely deal with Chinese history. However, I have yet to see Raise the Red Lantern, The Emperor and the Assassin, Once Upon a time in China Trilogy, Killer, Hard-Boiled, and The Joy Luck Club.
 

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