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|Index||70 reviews in total|
For about a dozen years, it was hard to find too many films Richard
Gere made which weren't interesting and well-made. This was no
exception. Once again, he "delivers the goods" and is involved in an
Gere, a follower, I believe, of the Dalai Lama whom the Communists forced out of Tibet, uses this film to get his shots in at his mentor's enemy. Anyone who thinks this is just a coincidence is pretty naive. Nonetheless, the facts support the film's stark, brutal portrayal of Communist China's leadership. At the very least, it shows a regime unwilling to hear both sides of a story. (Hollywood has often given the same treatment to the U.S. government, showing it more often in a corrupt light, which is ludicrous compared to restrictive Communist China.)
Anyway, Gere really dominates this film, being in almost every scene. This is your basic frame-up-then-prove-your-innocence-in-court story. It keeps your attention throughout although I thought the ending was a bit confusing because things happened almost too fast for the viewer to take in. At two hours, the film could have been trimmed a tad but the lulls in here were not much.
Overall, an underrated film and unjustly criticized by the national critics, most of whom don't like it when communism is bashed.
I thought this was wonderful - and can't for the life of me understand the
Some seem to be attacking the movie on the basis that it is too hard on China - REALLY?
Ask any North Korean refugee who's been captured in China -
Ask any member of the harmless Falun Gong religious sect -
Ask anyone connected by family ties with those identified as having participated in the Tianenmen Square protests (the protests were actually in quite a number of cities - but television covered just the tens of thousands assembled in Beijing).
No, it's not an "art house" kind of movie - don't expect the slow pace and strange story of something like Farewell My Concubine.
Instead, it's a wonderful Hitchcock-type story transplanted to Communist China - and voila - a wonderful movie that should have been remembered at Oscar time!
It's far better than, say, Hitchcock's Torn Curtain or Topaz - both set in repressive Communist regimes. It's more like a combination of The Wrong Man and North by Northwest - but sexier than either.
Our Welsh friend from beautiful Aberystwyth, Philip Davies, has it about right in his review printed beneath mine.
This is beautifully shot, with wonderful acting in a riveting Hitchcock type movie. Richard Gere is excellent - the politics and scenes of a changing China are fascinating.
I strongly recommend this one.
This is very exciting, suspenseful, romantic - and its depiction of China rings true.
Not well received back in 1997, this film deserved a much kinder
evaluation, and in light of present geopolitical and commercial
developments even appears to have been prophetic.
But of course hindsight's always easy, and since most people who reviewed Red Corner eight years ago never lived in mainland China, it was likewise not highly probable they would see it through the same jaded, seasoned eyes. And in fact, it helps to be experienced in China living when watching Red Corner, for much of its deeper mannerisms only become apparent if you know how and when to look for them.
For example, Richard Gere (as subtle and low-key as usual) portrays Jack Moore, a US-based business person willing to forego ideals and politics in order to enter the much vaunted mainland market, hyped up to be the best thing since instant noodles, when in fact like everything in life, it too comes at a price. When time arrives to sign a large media contract, Moore wants to pause and assess particulars by the book. He also notices China's newly-found penchant for blunt nationalism (oops, "patriotism", done nicely by a scene where he gauges club-goers' vehement reactions to a coaxing DJ), and doesn't quite feel good about his local contacts (including excellent veteran James Hong).
But as a simple mortal, Moore joins a gorgeous catwalking model (Jessey Meng) at his hotel room for a night of brief pleasures. Brief, because the next morning begins with him dragged away by Beijing cops who, having found the girl's dead body in the room and her fresh blood all over him, proceed to assume the American guilty.
Now, Red Corner's not a racist film. It doesn't fall into obvious stereotypes, nor does it contain any racial slurs (or profanity at all). Asians aren't made to be villains, just as the uncaring US embassy staff do not in any way represent the Western contingent. Having said that, the movie doesn't shy away from painful issues. It clearly conveys xenophobic attitudes found among mainland people and authorities, as many who've lived there can attest to. Of course, not everyone's like that, and competent actress Bai Ling (The Crow, Anna and the King) does well as Moore's honest, crusading defense attorney, Shen Yuelin, during what quickly devolves into a kangaroo court.
Meanwhile, Red Corner shows the abusive treatment our protagonist's subjected to, often to the point of endangering his life. When asked, Shen Yuelin's assistant says that Moore's frequent beatings are simply "because he's a foreigner", a familiar sentiment to non-Chinese residents of the mainland.
Similarly, the Americans involved in this legal fiasco wish to distance themselves from aiding Moore, as doing so might work against commercial interests based on sheer greed. Thus Red Corner preceded its time by faithfully showing how global factions are willing to play along just to get that great juicy carrot dangling from a stick most don't want to acknowledge. As of 2005, companies like Microsoft and HP openly pursue a policy of appeasement when it comes to China, willingly accepting political strings attached to what are supposed to be mere commercial activities.
And if you don't consider all that a sign of the film's credibility, how about the fact that mainland authorities quickly moved to ban it and prevent its cast and crew from entering China? Just for its attempt to challenge an authoritarian mindset and stand for free expression alone should Red Corner be applauded.
Additionally, it's a mostly believable project from start to finish, accurately sampling many of China's social staples through concepts such as "guanxi" (connections) and "da ge" (basically a nickname for somebody more respected than oneself), yet doesn't make any claims of exotica, while steering clear of clichés (save for Yuelin living with her kindly old grandmother). There's one scene showing Yuelin speaking to a police official in English so as to avoid making him "lose face", which is utter nonsense of course (probably the actor doesn't speak Chinese).
Moore himself speaks just a bit Putonghua (standard Chinese), as do many of the business people and newly-arrived in mainland China. Again, familiar from real life, as was the interaction between him and the locals. Beyond that, for something made almost entirely in California, Red Corner passes for Beijing with very few glitches (vehicles sometimes don't look authentic), featuring ample attention to detail and an atmosphere faithful to the original. Certainly, some footage was covertly shot in Beijing itself, yet due to the government's disapproving attitude, production had to relocate back to the States. All in all, Red Corner also plays it fair, going to show that China does have judicial systems with a potential to work as well as any others. It makes a point of addressing the mainland's criminal code, and court hearing procedures all appear in detail. Plus, eventually the truth does come out, and while it's pretty obvious who dunnit from the get go, this isn't the main point here.
The point is a warning against oppression wherever it may be and whatever form it may take, and a cautionary note regarding the perils of blind opportunism. Just because somebody promises you a gilded prize for playing by their rules doesn't mean those rules stop applying once the prize is obtained, if at all. And if we're not careful, there won't be too many reviews of this critical nature in times to come. Relations with China, as with any other nation, should be equivocal and based on standing for your own values, not another's, and that means not compromising liberties and freedoms standing at the very core of enlightened, progressive society. Like Red Corner's tagline says, leniency for those who confess and comply, severity for those who dare resist, that will be our downfall.
Rating: * * * *
This is a very well written and directed film with good locations and very good acting. The discourse on the Chinese approach to justice and the potential for corruption in their state-centered society is sharp and, from my experience, accurate. It is delivered as part of an entertaining story with very strong performances by the leads. I like Richard Gere in this, as I do Ling Bai's performance. Their chemistry attracts the viewer and helps us through the difficult issues the film addresses. A must see.
After I saw this movie, I had to see it again. Most likely it was because
was on HBO and I missed the first thirty minutes. I'm glad I rented it
though. It is a great movie and I would have wanted to see it again
It was sad though. I spoke with many of my friends after seeing it the second time and told them about it. They just looked at me and said, "Red Corner? What's that?" I was sad that most of my friends have never seen such a great movie! Gere and Bai's performances were wonderful! It is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I hope my friends eventually see it and if you haven't, you should.
********** - 10 Stars
Rambling drama about a US salesman arrested for a murder he did not commit, Red Corner has actual footage of Beijing convincingly mixed with the main shooting which gives the impression that the movie was actually made in China - and presumably with the approval of the Chinese authorities. Unfortunately, this is not really true, and the main Chinese lead - Ling Bai, whose name means 'white light' or 'white spirit' - was at Tiananmen in 1989 and emigrated to the US shortly thereafter. I've met students who lived in China at the time who absolutely refuse to discuss the situation back home; that Ling Bai does is testimony to her 'white spirit', and she really does steal the show from Gere here, in a kind of reverse Casablanca 'hill of beans' role. Whether the depiction of conditions in the Chinese judicial system is accurate or not, the movie does succeed in making the viewer understand that there are two views to almost anything, and that in China, as anywhere, power corrupts. Stacking the deck against consular officials is a nice touch, for these people are truly the cowards and turncoats the movie makes them out to be. The plot swerves from the inexplicable to the Orwellian to a love story (which does, it is true, sort of come out of nowhere), but the final scene on the tarmac does much to salvage that. Maybe Gere wanted to make the Chinese look bad, but they certainly don't need his help. Based on an incident that happened not in China but in Italy, Red Corner is viewable without ever coming close to being a great film. Its one claim to greatness is Ling Bai - she's absolutely fabulous.
This film held my interest because of the great acting by Ling Bai,(Shen Yuelin),"Edmond",'05, who is a very educated Chinese lawyer and is placed in a very difficult situation in having to defend Richard Gere,(Jack Moore), "Unfaithful",'02, who is also another lawyer from the United States. Jack Moore gets himself in a very bad situation with a young Chinese woman, he some what falls in love with this gal on first sight and winds up in bed with her and all kinds of problems seem to happen. Jack wakes up and can't remember very much of anything that seemed to have occurred with this young gal and winds up being thrown into jail and having to live like a pig in horrible conditions. Richard Gere and Ling Bai are a great combination, however, the film is rather long and drawn out and intends to become a bit boring.
Red Corner is quite obviously a comment on the current situation in Red
China. Being a good friend of the Dalai Lama and Tibet in general, the "the
Chinese government and army are all bad people" argument is what keeps this
film going. It could almost be considered a crash course on what is still
going on in China today. Don't get me wrong, the film is actually quite well
done and has a good story to go with it which makes it more than a two hour
The whole plot centers around the Gere character being framed for a murder of a Chinese girl. The girl just happens to be the daughter of an important general which makes Gere's chances of survival all the less. Sure, all of the cliches are built into this film, especially the wrongfully imprisoned man (haven't the 90's been a real haven to these kinds of films ever since "The Fugitive?"). But the plot is still interesting the film throughout and other than a few twists that seemed unnecessary, keeps focus until the end. I never will understand why Gere didn't just stay at the embassy, he must have been somewhat crazy.
The bond between the two main characters starts off very cold and warms until the end with an airport scene that was very fitting. After watching the film you'll know what I mean. The chase scene through the city is very exciting although at times farfetched, but still makes for some good action in between a few dramatic scenes. Even without on screen violence ala American History X or Saving Private Ryan, this film still manages to invoke fear simply knowing that the Chinese will do whatever they please, regardless of human life.
This film only helps to show China as an unhumanitary state with archaic laws and traditions. When one is forced to plead guilty in order to have leaniency directed towards them, something is really wrong. Hopefully this film will open some eyes to the situation and be a catalyst to future change.
I think this was an excellent movie. It's hard to believe that this was not filmed in China the settings looked so authentic. The directing was very good. Richard Gere gave his usual superb performance and Bai Ling was brilliant. Some people seem to think that this movie was being too hard on China. I read some of the quotes that the Chinese actors made who were in this movie, they said the movie was being too lenient, I tend to believe them. Just because Richard Gere is a Buddhist doesn't make him biased as some have suggested, he is too gifted an actor and too much a gentlemen to let his spiritual beliefs affect a movie, his compassion sure, but not spiritual beliefs. Too many people think it's hate, but what it is, is his compassion. Just be glad we live in a democracy and have compassion for those who don't. I can't imagine what it would be like to find myself in a situation like the character Jack (Gere) in the movie - it would be terrifying.
Essentially what we are shown here is not the classical American court
drama. When our 'Mr. Deeds' goes to town, the town is Beijing, and his case
becomes a show-trial in the cockpit of a new Chinese revolution that is
taking place between the old-guard Maoists and the modernisers.
Richard Gere's American is an alienated, rootless 'Rick' caught in the cultural cross-fire between two power blocs. It is his enforced engagement with the reality of another world-view and the struggle of an intelligent Chinese woman to redeem the revolutionary excesses of her culture that lead directly to the Casablanca-esque ending, where love is sublimated beyond the personal to an ideal understanding and identification - 'You have a family here' - with the historical plight of a people.
This explains Richard Gere's unusually selfless performance, where he has had the taste and intelligence to let the women, particularly his Chinese defence lawyer, dominate every situation and every scene. Indeed, this feminist tendency in the film is also reflected in the consistently hostile view taken of the militaristic structure of Chinese state power as so much authoritarian posturing. As symbol of a new China the young woman lawyer is most effective: The ancient Greeks also saw the spirit of unbiased law as female, and Shakespeare's Portia is another such paradigm. And the actress portraying her illuminates the screen with her passionate intellectual intensity.
There is an effective parallelism to the revolutionary acts which destroyed the young lawyer's father during the time of the Cultural Revolution, leaving her with crippling and unresolved guilt, and the barrel of a gun in the hands of the murdered girl's father which alone can resolve the historical tensions at work in the courtroom, and reverse all the political lies in a new revolutionary act, additionally realising the great potential of a young China, by freeing that stirring Chinese conscience from its historical contradictions.
So this is an intelligent political thriller, although those of a more Costas-Gavrian or Godardian intellectual purity do seem to resent seeing a crisis of the Left viewed even from a very disengaged American viewpoint, disliking the humanist American strain of populist appeal in a political context, and resenting the smooth professionalism of the presentation as a mere circus. Even stranger are the objectors to Gere's Buddhism, who seemingly take fright at the intrusion of other perspectives into their own blinkered focus! In any case, Buddhism seems clearly not to be an issue to the scriptwriter.
This film in no way presents itself as the last word on its subject - but it is an intelligent and engaging movie, which, far from slandering the Chinese in the manner some vintage Korean-War tub-thumper about the 'Yellow Peril', goes out of its way not to identify the Chinese people with their masters. Curiously, this is exactly what the film's detractors do!
There is a sly reference to the Boxer Rebellion that began China's long road to modernisation, in the person of the trusty who was sent to beat up or even kill the American, but who comes to see that the real foreign devils in this instance are the corrupted Chinese officials who have sold out to the worst foreign traits of cynicism and greed by doing back-door deals with an unscrupulous Western communications company, and who finally confesses his error with true selfless revolutionary earnestness.
The fact that this Boxer Rebellion is played out in the blockbuster film equivalent of Madison Square Gardens, and is mightily entertaining throughout, has led many critics to assume that all they have been presented with is a superficial entertainment unworthy of such a serious subject. Actually, the film is fully engaged with the tragedy and passion of the Chinese people as they try to work out their destiny, and the proof of this is that, to any unbiased observer, the film leaves one with a new respect for the Chinese people, caught up in the complexities of their own history, and struggling for a better life. There is nothing patronising; there is emphatically no United States Cavalry riding to the rescue.
And I should have thought the contempt shown throughout towards official American diplomacy and state policy would have appealed to the most anti-American leftist. But are the critics just taking fashionable left jabs at their own right-wing bogies? - and I do mean Humphrey! Let us leave these obsessives to their futile shadow-boxing, forever engaged with an opponent entirely constructed from the straw which evidently bulks out their own brain-pans.
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