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This movie was just another convenient vehicle for Hong Kong movie producers and writers to indulge in their Sino-centric and xenophobic fantasies. ("Once Upon A Time In China I, II, and III" are some other recent examples of these Sino-centric fantasies.) These Sino-centric movies invariably portray Chinese as quasi-saintly, self-sacrificing heroes while portraying most foreigners as black-hearted villains. This movie did just that. The leaders of the Boxer Rebellion were portrayed as pure-hearted heroes while the foreigners (especially Japanese, Russians and Germans) were portrayed as one-dimensional greedy idiots. As many of us know, political struggle and war are not battle between totally good and totally evil. The world is more complex. The real world is filled with shades of gray, not just black and white. It is clear even to the most unsophisticated movie goer that the simplistic, one-dimensional portrayal of the Boxer Rebellion in this movie absolutely lacks credibility. Moreover, this good-guy portrayal of the leadership of the Boxers is contrary to the historical evidence. Historically, although some of the leaders of the Boxer Rebellion were indeed pure-hearted patriots, the barbaric deeds committed by the Boxers and their leadership are historical proof that most of the Boxers and their leaders were merciless zealots who had no scruples about massacring defenseless women, children and babies.
During the screening of this movie, not only did I question the validity of the plot and characterization, but I wondered if Hong Kong movie producers hire historical consultants? I used to think Hollywood's historical inaccuracies were bad, but the historical inaccuracies of some Chinese movies are just awful!! IMDB comment section is just too short to mention all the blatant inaccuracies of this film, but I shall mention some of them: 1) Why were American soldiers and officers wearing Civil War era uniform? The American soldiers who were sent to Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion wore uniform totally different from the ones worn during the Civil War. (They probably wore khaki hat and pants and dark blue shirts, a uniform similar to those of the Rough Riders.) 2) The Russian uniform is totally inaccurate. The uniform in the movie does not even resemble the real uniform. 3) A Japanese naval officer in the movie had shoulder length hair. Japanese naval officers were not allowed to have shoulder length hair. 4) Why were so few Chinese in the movie wearing the so-called "pigtail" (or queue)? In spite of the portrayal of this movie, vast majority of the residents of Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion were required to arrange their hair in the Manchu style (i.e. pigtail). Most Chinese men did not cut their pigtail until 1910's or 1920's.
Many people say a movie goer should not be too rational if he or she wants to enjoy a movie. However, with such a plethora of historical inaccuracies and incredible character portrayals, no logical human being can fully enjoy this kind of movie. Such a cheap plot and shallow characterization should not even belong in a cartoon.
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