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Heart of China (1999)

Huanghe juelian (original title)
The film tells the story of a grounded American pilot during the Second World War who learns about the noble spirit of the Chinese poeple when he is rescued by the communist-led Chinese ... See full summary »



5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Jing Ning ...
Paul Kersey ...
Owen Neumann
Xinjun Wang
Tumen ...
(as Men Tu)
Ming Li
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lui Guojing Evans ...
Owen's Granddaughter


The film tells the story of a grounded American pilot during the Second World War who learns about the noble spirit of the Chinese poeple when he is rescued by the communist-led Chinese army after an emergency landing near the Great Wall. On the way to the Communist base, the pilot falls in love with a girl soldier whose lingering memory of being raped by the Japanese makes her a determined fighter. Half a century later, the American pilot returns to the Yellow River to pay his respects to the native people who rescued him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War





Release Date:

29 September 2005 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Grief Over the Yellow River  »

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User Reviews

A mess of a movie
15 January 2003 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Lover's Grief seems to be China's attempt at a hollywood style blockbuster. But it seem to failed miserably.

The film is about an American pilot Owen Neumann, played by Paul Kersey whose plane was damaged by the Japanese while on a spy photo mission, then landing behind Japanese occupied land in China. He is rescued by members of a Chinese communist army has to be sneaked out of that region. On the way, Owen falls in love with one of the solder Angel, played by Jing Ning.

The portrayal of westerners seems so ludicrous that it is as if westerners were irrational fools. The acting by the western actors seems so bad that it seems that the director don't know how to direct them. The aerial scene were particularly embarrassing, with the acting nothing more than reading of the lines on top of the already inconceivable scenario. The voice-over by Owen is a literal reading off the script, not even pausing between sentences to given the sense of insight and retrospect.

We also have a few American invincible hero scenes where the good guy/guys is wildly overmatched by the bad guys but somehow guns most of them down. Many of the scenes seem to be heavy on the sentimental, especially the repeated replay of the scene where Angel is posing for a picture. They are trying to have a hollywood feel but not knowing how, missing on much of the fine details.

This movie also takes a liberal interpretation of history, with the war within a war reference so oddly thrown in that I had to rewind to see if they were fighting the Nationalist or Japanese soldiers in the prior scene.

I do wish the flashbacks were not so blatantly used, some of it seems a little forced, not being flashbacks of anybody at all, but more like tools to show us what happened there. There must be some other way to convey what happened without having to use this method. Angel's flashback is used in a better way that it meshes better with the story.

The main thing going for it is the expansive view on the beautiful mountainous landscapes. The extreme zooming out from the soldiers to the whole mountain range also conveys the vastness of the region, and many of the foreshortened view of the Yellow river gives us a feeling of immediacy to its turbulent waters.

The development of the love story seems to be well paced, without it being rushed or forced. Although the fact Owen proclaiming his love for Angel and wanting to marry her seems to be superceded by the big dramatic moment afterward where he kisses her. Somehow that the importance is oddly reversed. Also, her death is oddly construed, since we don't see Owen not being able successfully swim across the river with Angel tied to him, or Angel being on the verge of death, although that is probably what the film is trying to portray, but then where is her sacrafice for him that is central to the plot?

The special effect is bordering on embarrassing, with miniatures so obvious and still figures blatantly visible. Really simple things like shooting in high frame rate and slowing down the playback by 3-4x in order to give a feeling of larger scale wasn't even used. Or shooting in small aperture on close-up shots of miniatures so they don't look like miniatures. Or placing the real and miniature version of the plane hanging over the cliff at similar position so we think they are the same thing, and maybe using dolls that does more than have its knee move from the pulling of a string. Consistency in the ship attack scenes are clearly lacking, with the ship moving one second and standing still the next, not to mention the visibilty of the rope below the waterline that is used to tow it.

Apparently, the Chinese officials thought so highly of this film, its story of reconciliation with the long time western nemesis indirectly told by the love story, along with the sacrifices by the brave Chinese people. But the American epic blockbuster feel they liked so much actually works against the film because it is so amateurish by western standard. Granted, there are big budget American films that are no better than this one, but none are hailed as worthy of an Oscar.

If you want to see the film, do so because you want to see Jing Ning, or because you want to see how everything could go wrong when you imitate a style. But not because you want to see a good film.

3 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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