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Red River Valley More at IMDbPro »Hong he gu (original title)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Highlights dark side of Western culture as well

10/10
Author: yellowswift from Australia
10 November 2009

User "zzmale" commented on the fact that this movie showed the dark side of Chinese culture. True, Chinese culture, like all other cultures, have good points and bad points. What this movie also shows is the dark side of Western culture in that it is wrong for outsiders to interfere with the development of Chinese culture.

Just because you don't like something or because we mistreat our women, it does not give you the "right" to invade our country in order to spread your "freedom or democracy". It does not give you the right to kill our people, destroy our culture and force us to be Christians.

This movie illustrates the sufferings of the Chinese people in the 19th and early 20th century when it got invaded by various foreign powers, first the Western army then the Japanese. It's a miracle that China didn't fragment into various pieces like the Middle East. Look what happened when the Otterman empire was destroyed and broken up into small countries; today it is a complete basket case.

Western audiences need to watch movies like this and learn from it. Current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and possible future wars involving Iran and Pakistan showed that the Western powers haven't really learned anything from the past. Different faces but still the same modus operandi.

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10 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Fictitious story that helps to explain real problems in China

10/10
Author: zzmale
13 February 2004

The literal translation of the title of this film is: Red River Valley.

Although the story itself depicted in the movie is fictitious, similar events in real life did happen, but the significance of this movie is often missed by the audience if they don't have a clear knowledge of Chinese history and traditional culture.

What is important in this movie is that it exposed the not-so-favorite side, or more precisely, the dark and nasty side of the Chinese traditional culture: first, the gender discrimination against females in the traditional Confucian teaching. The second is the extravagant ceremonial rituals to pay the respect to the dead and your ancestors in a fanatical religious way to show how dedicated you are and what a good offspring you are. According to the traditional Confucian teachings, in addition to the dead and ancestors, the same extravagant ceremonial rituals to show respect also applies to the emperors, head of the family or other authority figures.

When these two types of dross of the traditional culture combined, one of the deadly result was the extreme measures people would resort to: human sacrifice in the religious ceremonial rituals to pay one's respect to the dead/ancestors/authorities/heaven/earth etc., just like the movie depicted. Such brutal practice existed through out the Chinese history for thousands of years and it was not until the establishment of the Chinese Republic did such practice was finally banned by law, but due to the weak control of the Nationalist government, the practice was not completely eradicated after the communist revolution. Ironically, the ethnic minorities which were considered barbarian by Confucianism such as Tibetans shown here did not have the widespread of such practice and this is why potential victims escape to the area where minorities resides.

The other bad results of the combination of the two types of dross of the traditional Confucian teaching reappeared in China during the traditional Chinese culture resurgence when personal wealth increased significantly in the rapid economic expansion of China:

One of the two is the widespread adultery: men keep mistresses because under the traditional Confucian teaching, such unequal treatment of genders was tolerated and encouraged in the form of concubinage, which is illegal in China, so men resorts to the practice of keeping mistresses. The second one is the abandoned female babies (in addition to abortion) because of the needs of having sons to carry on the family names.

This movie provided a doze of reality that Chinese society really needs in the current heat of traditional culture resurgence in which everything is accepted blindly, instead of only inheriting the good aspect and riding of the bad aspect. The only thing unsatisfactory is that such good hint made by this movie is in a very subtle way of describing the past, not direct enough, but it is still good enough.

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