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Ba wang bie ji
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Reviews & Ratings for
Farewell My Concubine More at IMDbPro »Ba wang bie ji (original title)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mark from Hong Kong
19 April 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


I recently got the opportunity to see this film on the big screen, for the first time, at the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival 2004. As a westerner I have lived in Hong Kong for over 3 years and always previously imagined the standard Hong Kong film genre to be either a comedy/historical-comedy/gangster/police style of film. How wrong I have been! This film was absolutely stunning from it's opening scene to it's eventual conclusion.

I found the cinematography/direction/props/locations/sets/costumes/make-up/acting/music to be of the highest quality and detail. As a lover of french historic dramas, and the work of Mr Jean-Paul Rappenneau, I feel this equals and at times exceeds his Cyrano de Bergerac in quality and stature. Which I rate as my favourite film.

As stated by other users here, Leslie Cheung has his character so well sorted. His opposite number Fengyi Zhang does very well to keep up with such a brilliant performance by Cheung. Although Zhang is equally well supported by actress Li Gong who plays his wife Juxian, with some wonderful repartie between herself and Cheung trying to outwit each other.

It was also interesting to see this film after having read Jackie Chans' biography, describing his upbringing at a chinese opera school in Hong Kong, in the 60's. The comparisons between his experiences and those portrayed in this film were very similar.

I can easily say that this film ranks extremely high in my opinion. Anyone wanting to see what is surely one of the best chinese films ever produced should see this film.

Rating 10/10


The most touching scene of the film, apart from the obvious one that I won't mention here, is the scene where the fellow escapee boy from the opera school, realises his dream of fame in a devastatingly macabre way. Having dreamt of being a famous opera star, earning lots of money and eating candied crab apples every day. When he becomes aware that a beating of almighty proportions is about to follow, he stuffs his mouth with all his 'ill gotten' apples and so decides to end it all. As the rest of the school discover the scene, the schools stage falls out on to the floor with a crash, signifying the boys last and ultimate performance. A real lump in the throat moment.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A definite "must see!"

Author: smddc from Baltimore, MD, USA
27 May 2001

"Ba wang bie ji" is an incredible film not only for its stunning portrayal of China's historical and cultural conflicts, but also for its thoughtful and provocative character development. I am particularly impressed with Chen Kaige's ability to scrutinize the gray areas of gender through visual media; by no means an easy task.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A tragedy of art, life and history

Author: Francesco-5 from Rovigo, Italy
11 January 2001

The beauty of this movie is objective and absolute. Farewell my concubine is an example of how much a movie opera can be still close to the spirit of classical tragedy. The hidden tissue of art and life covering the characters reveals at the end the obscene and terrible relation between destiny and our choices. The whole experience of all the characters is intimately joined to the ruinous becoming of history and every single event contributes to give to the recurrent scenes a new and different meaning. So the representation is really complete holding into a more tight catch life and history, theatre and truth.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: mlcanfield1979 from USA
25 October 2004

I found the film to be very interesting and informative. I didn't know the extent of what went on during regime changes in China. I also found it interesting to learn about the Peking Opera.

I was a little disappointed in some of the scenes though. I wasn't certain in a few sections of the film if someone had died or not. The first incident was with the boy that ran off, the second was with the wife. I wish they would have shown more in those scenes to make things clearer.

All in all, I find it to be a good film and worth the time to watch it.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Amazing that so much of a completely different culture could come over so well

Author: fitzpatp from Dublin, Ireland
23 March 2000

Strong story, character acting and opera performances made this one of the best films I've seen in years.

I was amazed at the amount of the film that managed to cross the vast cultural and language barriers from China to Ireland.

A real classic.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A winner(9/10)

Author: outsider-2 from Rugby, England
7 January 1999

A stunning film with excellent visuals and a superb cast. What more can you ask for? While you get this out of the foreign film section of your local video store, make sure to check out Gong Li's other movies. It's an absolute joy to watch her movies, a gifted actress indeed.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Top Chinese Movie ever made!

Author: starsailor520 from 18480118
25 November 2004

CHEN Kaige is one of the most famous and talented director in China..His good taste of aesthetics and deep understanding about culture leads him to the road of glory...maybe non-Chinese audience will get a little bit difficulty in the story or some characters' strange behavior...those refer to history background....but it's a wonderful movie for all the Chinese to be proud of!! the movie contains so many elements suck as drama(Beijing opera),culture revolution,and it's all connected by the tragic and miserable life of Cheng Die Yin(Die Yi means" butterfly wearing") and the actor Zhang Guo Rong is a combination of man and woman ..he acted truly to real life...he got into the role so much that he cannot help crying in some senses..when he put in the make-up we can even feel his tender soul while another leading actor Zhang Feng Yi is widely known in China,and is one of the most excellent Chinese actor alive....The movie achieved great success and it was just a monument for Chinese movie industry..

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very good film

Author: AKS-6 from Sweden
13 February 2000

"Farewell My Concubine" is a very good film. The story is interesting and upsetting. The acting is exceptional (Li Gong is fantastic) and everything from cinematography to the script is brilliant. It's a bit too long, if you ask me, but the film is, nevertheless, interesting until the end.

This is only the second Chinese film I have seen, but it is almost as good as the absolute masterpiece "Raise the Red Lantern" (Li Gong is in that film as well). Recommended. (7/10)

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Leslie Cheung and Farewell, My Concubine

Author: kitsune_kitana from Oregon, USA
10 June 2003

A classic movie and a must-have in any foreign film collection. Leslie Cheung gave his role in "Farewell, My Concubine" an amazing depth that few actors could ever dream of creating; it's only sad that his greatness couldn't transcend his emotional problems.

(So tragic to lose one of the few truly talented people in entertainment. He will be incredibly missed.)

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

History tells us...

Author: Hao Zhuang from Shanghai, China
4 January 2005

What can we learn from history? When I watched "Farewell" I asked myself. The story about two Peking opera brothers, their life behind stage with love betrayal and anguish.

I didn't experience the period from 20s to 70s. But as a born Chinese I know the fifty years history very clear. China changed a lot in this period. From feudalization went to an independent democratic country.

I have to mention Chinese traditional education about opera player's training. I guess many people felt miserable and pitiful when the teacher was beating opera apprenticed kids, I just want to say it was very common in opera school at that time and every actor must take it if he desires to fame. Even now a few of parents still hit their children especially in countryside families, because they believe no kids grow well without severe chastisement. It's a part of Chinese traditional culture obviously. Certainly, I don't think it's right.

The second issue I wanna point out is Culture Revolution(66-76), the disastrous fault in China modern history. Duan solo(Zhang Fengyi) betrayed his loyal wife(Gong Li) and disclosed his brother's(Leslie Cheung) past when they were animadverted in film. Why he did that, I think the revolution twisted his soul. If anti-Japan war and the civil war destroyed the material of living, I ought to say the revolution destroyed all the generation of my parents. They didn't accept entire education and become a tool of politics. Young men didn't know what the revolution is and why it exists at that time at all.

A great movie all in all, pathetic ending, but be doomed to that. If a person finds he had lost the meaning of life and not hold pain brought from fate any longer. Nothing left but suicide to him. Worthy of spending three hours to watching if you are interested in Chinese culture and what happened in the past.

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