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The Story of Qiu Ju (1992)

Qiu Ju da guan si (original title)
PG | | Comedy, Drama | 16 April 1993 (USA)
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 »



(writer of the the novella on which the film is based, "The Wan Family's Lawsuit"),

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15 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Qiu Ju
Wan Qinglai, chili farmer
Liuchun Yang ...
Meizi, Qinglai's sister
Kesheng Lei ...
Wang Shantang, village chief
Zhijun Ge ...
Officer Li
Wanqing Zhu
Luowen Cui
Huiqin Yang
Jianfa Wang
Zi Lin
Jun Ye


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 the hierarchy and travels farther and farther away from the countryside the viewer is also provided with a look at the changing Chinese society through the verite camera used in most scenes. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Story of Qiu Ju  »

Box Office


$1,890,247 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Lawyer Wu: [subtitles] Qiu Ju, in civil and administrative lawsuits, the defendants aren't necessarily bad people.
Qiu Ju: Do good people sue each other?
Lawyer Wu: Of course!
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User Reviews

Vast surge, no one thing wins out
23 October 2015 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

This is a small thing, but ripe, all about learning to naturally go out among life.

This is is first in the story. A wife demands to know why her husband was kicked "where it hurts" by a local official. Why did he do it? She ventures out in the village, then down in the city in search of answers. The tip of the thread that humorously guides us through different faces so that altogether we get a snapshot of Chinese life.

A constable arbites and gives his verdict, which seems perfectly reasonable, the accused will cover medical expenses and both parties are made aware that they were both wrong. But the wife is not pleased, she wants a more significant justice, and will go through the state apparatus looking for it.

This has led some viewers to think that we're meant to be seeing an individual being caught in the gears of an absurd and uncaring bureaucracy; that seems to be a handy interpretation we have in the West ever since Kafka. But that's not the point being made here.

Party officials, whenever encountered, are always benevolent and trying to be fair, quietly exasperated by the antics of the people in their charge. A higherup is kind enough to drive her back to the hotel on his car, another one stoically returns someone's stray animal. You can see why this among Zhang's early work was not banned over there.

But every new verdict from higher offices remains the same however, which is to say, the world is just so, maybe not ideal. Why make a fuss about why we do things, why stand so rigidly? There's no deeper reason sometimes and we're better off mending ourselves by moving forward, going along unconstrained by "right" and "wrong". This is often hard to translate to someone in the West because we have made ourselves stupid by arguing from principle instead of seeing what the specific thing in front of us calls for now.

And the notion of contrived uncontrivance extends in everything else. Zhang is aiming for a snapshot of life whereby we just mingle with things, what they used to call "neorealism" back in the day. The view it ventures to offer will be precious, a heartland generally closed to us.

More pertinently for me, it evokes a view of life, a warmth and sense of community I like. Lovingly obstinate in trying to fathom its tempests, pettiness without malice, quiet perseverance in simple things. Zhang lets all of this envelop in a natural way, as impulse that climbs up through the soles of the feet.

Gong Li is perfectly in tune with this, sublime in erasing any trace of an actor's face behind the shawl, making herself like a stump of uncontrived urges. We're meant to see that though a kind person, she's also a little dull in her fixation to an apology. And look how naturally she comes forth from her body, then watch her as the nervous empress in Golden Flower. What a range in which she moves freely.

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