Ju Dou (1990)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  April 1991 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 5,518 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 27 critic

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without ... See full summary »


0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A pregnant peasant woman seeks redress from the Chinese bureaucracy after the village chief kicks her husband in the groin in this comedy of justice. As she is frustrated by each level of ... See full summary »

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Li Gong, Peiqi Liu, Liuchun Yang
Red Sorghum (1987)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1930s China a young woman is sent by her father to marry the leprous owner of a winery. In the nearby red sorghum fields she falls for one of his servants. When the master dies she finds... See full summary »

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Li Gong, Wen Jiang, Rujun Ten
To Live (1994)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After Fugui and Jiazhen lose their personal fortunes, they raise a family and survive difficult cultural changes during 1940s to 1970s China.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: You Ge, Li Gong, Ben Niu
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A provincial boy related to a Shanghai crime family is recruited by his uncle into cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s to be a servant to a ganglord's mistress.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Li Gong, Baotian Li, Wang Xiaoxiao
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A young woman becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy lord, and must learn to live with the strict rules and tensions within the household.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Li Gong, Jingwu Ma, Saifei He
Not One Less (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each ... See full summary »

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Minzhi Wei, Huike Zhang, Zhenda Tian
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Yu-liang leaves a brothel in a small Chinese town, to become the second wife of Mr. Pan. While Pan is away at the revolution in Yunnan, Yu-liang ... See full summary »

Directors: Shuqin Huang, Yimou Zhang
Stars: Li Gong, Fang Cen, Shichang Da
The Road Home (1999)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Prompted by the death of his father and the grief of his mother, a man recalls the story of how they met in flashback.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A Japanese father travels to China's Yunnan province in the place of his ailing son to film a famous folk-opera star.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, Shinobu Terajima
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.

Director: Kaige Chen
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

Aircraft hijacking with Chinese special forces rescue. Gong Li as a heroic stewardess.

Directors: Fengliang Yang, Yimou Zhang
Stars: You Ge, Li Gong, Zhaoji Jia
Keep Cool (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A spurned lover seeks a rich man for revenge. A random onlooker -- who witnessed the public assault committed by the rich man against the lover -- seeks for monetary compensation for his ... See full summary »

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: You Ge, Wen Jiang, Gang Jiao


Credited cast:
Ma Chong
Zhijun Cong
Wu Fa
Zhaoji Jia
Jia Jin
Baotian Li ...
Wei Li ...
Xingli Niu
Yang Qianbin
Zhang Yi ...
Tianbai as child
Ji-an Zheng ...


A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. Filmed in glowing technicolour, this tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

April 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amor E Sedução  »

Box Office


$1,986,433 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A strange one to judge
24 October 2000 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

When watching Ju Dou it suddenly occurred to me that although Zhang Yimou is known for his political arguments the film seems to breathe through a warm and loving hope from Tianqing and Ju Dou. The political references and damnation of the treatment of women resonate but I found myself taking this hope theme and putting it out front. The beauty of the photography is unmatched, in particular the stunning shot of Tianqing working in the dye mill with the whole background illuminated with the suns reddened glare but there is the lack of visual plausibility, being the narrow minded baffoon that I am, the first thought to enter my head was that Ju Dou would never go for Tianqing, look how skinny and ugly the guy is! But the plausibility is increased once they get it together due to their quality performances, Gong Li's fragile "wolf" is probably one of the most mesmerising performances in history. It is truly hypnotic, and Li Baotian shows the contradictory nature of Tianqing, especially his tortured obedience in front of his "uncle" and his masculine dependence on Ju Dou that gives the film so much heart, despite his obvious lack of meat.

What isn't so great is the episodic feel that is helped none by the titles indicating the passage of time. Surely this could have been achieved visually, even on a small budget. Pacing feels a little disjointed, probably because the inciting incident happens quite a long way into the film, but maybe I got that and the act climax confused, note: must watch again.

Small discrepancies aside, my problem is with the narrative. Of course film can do more than to tell a story, but I feel that when you start one you should tell it properly and with skill. Of course, Ju Dou is one Zhang's earliest films and none of his later films that I have seen have suffered from this, but then again they do not portray a claustrophobic feeling so well in streets and houses as well as showing the vastness of the country itself. A visual metaphor for the people being close, feeling each other's pain and joy, with the money, the government for instance, far away, unable, or not wanting to see the plight of the citizens.

And on a final note, the uncle's mean streak and his black heart did not make me feel any less sorry for him in the middle of the film, which although adds a little hostility to Ju Dou, gives us another wonderful character in the film. No one is perfect.

I would highly recommend Ju Dou to all fans of Chinese cinema, especially those who prefer this to the action movies they produce by the bucket load in Hong Kong and are rarely any good unless they star Jet Li, or anyone who has a love of ambience in their movies. This achieves it ten fold.

Now I'm off to see Zhang Yimou's latest, 'The Road Home' in London. High expectations but not quite on the same level as Wong Kar-Wai's 'In the Mood for Love' released here on Friday October 27th. Looking forward to that too.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
gong li preshorner
Two questions lanternraiser
worried about the DVD quality yossarian-heller
Aspect Ratio SalParadise
creepy james-hering
chili powder/vinegar sweep24m
Discuss Ju Dou (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: