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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a marvellous idea to produce a film about two lovers whose paths
happen to cross in a fireworks factory. Every now and then some
crackers go off with an unexpected bang which does the trick of waking
up any viewers who have unfortunately dozed off during the calmer slow
It is difficult to fault this well-produced film about old China and its traditional ways of facing adversity. It is sad when a woman has to decide between "being a woman" and being "the boss" of a fireworks factory. As boss she must not marry because that would mean intrusion of other families into this rigid family business. And there are the jealousies that arise between long serving employees and the advent of a new comer...an itinerant artist...who spends too much time with the attractive boss.
The architecture of the sets is fascinating with its arches and flights of steps, its courtyards and balconies and numerous dark corners. Most of all I liked the river in all its moods, especially when the tormented boss is standing on the bank and the river in all its fury is rushing by. This is a great cinematic effect. Watch for it.
The firecracker contest however will be everyone's favourite scene, because as far as I know There has never been anything like it on our movie screens before. I always give high marks for films that show originality in their themes. The brave contests try to outdo each other by juggling exploding various firecrackers close to their bodies. Every man will watch with complete concentration but then cringe at the outcome of this scene.
I didn't find the other reviews helpful so thought I'd post my own.
I'd be the first one to shout "who cares if it's a foreign film, this movie sucks" but it doesn't. The characters are fascinating and the storyline is smooth and keeps you interested. It's slow in the sense that the director isn't afraid to leave in long shots, and let the plot points develop in a subtle manner. It's not slow in the sense that the longer shots are boring. This is not a case of a director falling in love with his footage and neglecting to make necessary cuts (with one exception near the end, perhaps). It's not the drama of Farewell my Concubine or Emperor and the Assassin, nor anything along the lines of Chungking Express or any kind of action fighting films. It's not a crushingly tragic film either, btw, as one might worry from the poster of the girl with the pained look. It's a simple story, and it works well.
A moving story of a young woman, Chun Zhi, who inherits a firework factory
in the China of former times. Family expectations are that she will dedicate
her life to the business and remain celibate, and she dresses in traditional
male costume and is called "Master".
But an itinerant painter, Nu Bao, starts employment there, and before long a romantic interest develops. Notions of tradition and duty interplay with human needs, and there is no simple resolution of the conflict.
The pace of the film is slow and the action is largely a matter of allusion, which makes it a difficult film for Western audiences; but the fiery nature of the two main characters ... the opposing colours red and green ... result in clashes and regrets in quick succession.
As useful for a glimpse of life in an alien culture as for anything else.
I began watching this with no preconceptions- I had never even heard of it- however, I was immediately pulled in by the intriguing story, beautiful cinematography, and unique characters. WATCH THIS MOVIE- if for no other reason than to see the astounding firecracker competition. You will not forget this film.
While not for everyone, this is a wonderful movie about how the individual fits into a social hierarchy. The key is these individuals do _not_ fit into the roles they have been assigned. And not only does the viewer get to watch the unfolding story, but one is treated to cinematography from a non-Hollywood point of view. This is one I would love to see on the big screen. One of my most favourite films.
I enjoyed this film as I do most foreign films. Subtitled rather than
English, the speech conveys the feelings of the characters. The era of the
and the foreign setting and mores made me feel as if I were watching a
made by aliens. The actions and reactions of the characters were either below my expectations of a given situation or completely over the top. Rarely did I see any character act in a manner that I expected. I find this very refreshing in a movie if a bit confusing. I liked the story and sympathized with the characters. I found the film style and quality to be good or above average. I give it a 7 out of 10.
A strange love story between a rich woman and a poor man, especially for one not familiar with Chinese culture. It will give you a few laughs (a few dirty ones too), the characters will curse all throughout, but don't be distracted, it is a serious and rather depressing drama. The settings include falling apart houses and going on boats across a dirty river, and most characters' clothes look like they took them from homeless people, which all adds to the mood. Don't expect any beautiful shots like in "Hero", or any martial arts. All thought-out heroes behaved strangely and unrealistically bringing the ending to top it off and kill whatever impression of the movie I had. For instance, twenty armed men getting scared of a few kids throwing firecrackers is very unconvincing. But go ahead, if you like this sort of depressing love stories, you'll have a blast.
People may be compelled to think that just because this is a foreign film, it is a good film. This is in fact, a terrible movie, and don't be fooled by the "noble" subject matter. The love story is ridiculous and badly contrived, the acting is next to terrible, and the dramatic scenes are nothing short of raunchy. The only good thing I can say about this is that there are a few beautifully shot scenes, but there is usually something stupid happening in that scene, so you don't notice the background. I wondered to myself as I watched it how it could possibly have been successful enough to come to the United States.
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