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Jiang Wen stars in his third directorial work that boasts a stellar cast including Joan Chen, Anthony Wong and Jaycee Chan. A polyptych of interconnected stories in different time-zones, ... See full summary »
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
During the Japanese occupation of China, two prisoners are dumped in a peasant's home in a small town. The owner is bullied into keeping the prisoners until the next New Year, at which time they will be collected. The village leaders convene to interrogate the prisoners. The townspeople then struggle to accommodate the prisoners. One is a bellicose Japanese nationalist, the other a nervous translator. Will the townspeople manage to keep the prisoners until the New Year? Written by
Ken Miller <email@example.com>
There is no question that the Japanese occupation of mainland China during WWII was marked by unimaginable cruelty and actions so barbaric that any sane human being would shudder at the description of them. This is all obvious to anyone who has had an unbiased, detailed education of that dreadful time period. On the surface, Jiang Wen's film touches on these acts to illuminate what it must have been like for the Chinese to cope with the Japanese "devils". But a thorough viewing of the film reveals so many more questions not just about the Chinese and Japanese but about the universal relationship between war and humans. Wen directs this film in a peculiar way. He uses comedy that forces us to laugh at things that we shouldn't. You find yourself smirking or smiling in moments until you catch yourself and remember that the whole scene in which you were laughing at was where character's lives were at stake. Most people will read this and not see what is so masterful about this approach. What makes Wen's quirkiness work is that it illuminates the naivety of human beings while at the same time brings these characters to life, which in the end leaves us trembling with emotion. It is a film that transcends common conceptions about war. A masterpiece.
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