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Guizi lai le
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Reviews & Ratings for
Devils on the Doorstep More at IMDbPro »Guizi lai le (original title)

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46 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Masterpiece from Asia, universal message on human nature.

Author: sdubos from Paris, France
11 October 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a really beautiful movie. The picture is marvelous, the plot is great; it's amazingly funny, I surprised myself keeping laughing very often on jokes in Chinese language!!!...Black and White is a really justified choice. The story is of the japanese occupation of China during WWII is very new to westerners. Cruelty of the then Japanese occupants is sudden and devastating. The end is a terrible movie scene, one of the most stunning ends I've ever seen.

I'm usually into us or european movies, and not at all into asian movies, but I think it's one of the greatest chinese movies I've ever seen, with hong-kong's "in the mood for love" and taiwanese "yi yi". But it's much easier to see : anyone could see it without getting bored.

It's been acclaimed in France and Cannes Film Festival. It should have deserved an international acclaim. I keep recommending it around me in Paris. Hope it's played elsewhere in other western countries; and in Japan of course... 10/10

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44 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

A masterpiece from Jiang Wen, again

Author: law82 from London
1 February 2004

After enjoying the excellent In the Heat of the Day, I really looked forward to watching this movie and had high expectation on it, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

This movie is a tragi-comedy about the Japanese invasion of China, which of course is no laughing matter, but this movie is genuinely funny and never falls into the bad taste category because it shows you the brutality of war and how it affects the Chinese people (albeit from a different angle than one would expect).

The ending, which I am not going to give away, is excellent and I think it is the most courageous war movie ending I have ever seen. However, one thing about Jiang Wen's movies is that they are so technically interesting that it is difficult to see what his movie is about as a whole.

Anyway, I highly recommend this film.

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32 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A must-see film, especially for Chinese

Author: blowaway from China
17 October 2007

This is the second time I see this film. As a Chinese, I feel a strong urge as well as an obligation to write some comment about it. I can safely conclude that the film vividly showed what the real situation was during the Japanese occupation in China back in WW2.

It is totally different from those main-stream anti-Japanese war films we can see throughout our early life, which still can be seen being replayed in CCTV (China Central Television) over and again again. In those films, almost all Chinese, young or old, men or women, were all warriors fighting against the Japanese invaders. We all know that it wasn't true. From this film, we can see how ignorant and stupid those Chinese peasants were. It gives us a chance to review what was really going on during that time. It is a history we cannot deny. As a matter of fact, this film was banned in mainland China by some kind of a "censorship" mainly because it revealed so much truth.

The director of the film, Jiangwen, is my only favorite director from China. You can say he is ambitious, a genius or whatever. But i say that he is a director with a sense of responsibility to our nation, to our people, to those heroes and civilians died in the war. He is not afraid to dig up the less-bright side of the history and present it to us, to those younger generation who never go through the war. It reminds us never to forget history.

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24 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Why didn't this win the Oscar?!

Author: Hunky Stud
22 July 2008

This is truly a masterpiece. I didn't plan to write a comment, but there are only 15 comments. Then I found out that it was banned by the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television due to its political incorrectness. So I am compelled to write a comment. This film was never released in mainland China. Is that government that afraid? Why do the Chinese filmmakers have no freedom? Those great Chinese directors, actors can not live on forever. When will the Chinese filmmakers have the freedom to make films that they want, so those films can be forever treasured by the generations forever.

This film reminded me of the other film called "Life is beautiful." They are both funny and about world war II. So few people in the West knew about the Japanese invasion of China during world war II, and millions of Chinese were brutally killed. Who could have thought that this kind of war movie can be super funny and meaningful? If they can give Oscar to "Life is beautiful" and "Schindler's List", they should also give Oscar's Best Foreign Film of the year or maybe Best film of the year to this film. This is just a rare epic coming from China. I have seen quite a few so-called best foreign film of the year given by the Academy, they were not great at all.

Most of the Chinese and Japanese actors were pretty good. However, David Wu as Major Gao did not perform well. When he first appeared, he actually was speaking Cantonese instead of the standard Mandarin Chinese. Then when he was delivering his speech, he also said a few words in Cantonese. Overall, he doesn't look like a Chinese nationalist army major at all.

Comparing to "Life is Beautiful", this film lacks of the beautiful music. I can laugh and cry when I watch "Life is beautiful." I can only laugh and feel sad when I watch this one.

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

War conquers all

Author: stripy from Slovenia
5 June 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie is about the Japanese occupation of China during WWII. It is very humorous and shows the human side of people in the war, be it Japanese or Chinese. Because of that the movie was heavily criticized by the Chinese government who accuses it of being too sympathetic to the Japanese. They even object to one scene where a Chinese peasant feeds a Japanese prisoner because (as they put it) no self respecting Chinaman would do that when food was scarce.

While most war time movies seen in the West concentrate on war in Europe and Pacific, this one gives another perspective. Though at times hilarious and grotesque the movie ends in tragedy as the might of war taker over humanity again. It's a must see: 10/10

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

The Chinese "Underground"! A great, tragic, dramedy!

Author: Jeffrey Wang ( from USA
23 April 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like Emir Kusturica's Underground, Devils on the Doorstep is a great, epic comedy-drama which examines how history can effect and destroy a small group of people. Like Underground, Devils mixes Rabelaisian humour with powerful drama to create a rousing, albeit bitter, commentary on the foibles of the human condition.

I watched the 139 minute version at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and when the film was over, the audience broke out into thunderous applause. I believe that 139 minutes is long enough for this film, although it would be interesting to see the 162 minute version.

Devils begins as a humorous comedy-drama examining how a group of Chinese villagers react to two Japanese POWS who are dumped mysteriously into their village. It is both touching and hilarious to see how the villagers deal with the POWS. However, Devils takes an unexpectedly tragic and violent turn in the last quarter of the film, when the realities of WWII destroy the lives of all the villagers.

The climatic party scene near the end of the film is one of the best scenes I have ever seen- the laughter and joy at the beginning of the party cushion us for the horrific violence which ensues.

Watch Devils on the Doorstep and enjoy the human comedy, but be warned about the last act of the film, which is unforgettably powerful and wrenching.

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Essential and historic Asian cinema

Author: andrewschrock from United States
7 May 2005

Do I feel late to the party on this one - how could I overlook this for the last 4 years? I was floored.

Watching "Devils on the Doorstep" reminded me of the first time I watched "seven samurai". Barring obvious comparisons such as being shot in black & white, using a combination of drama and comedy, and finishing it off with a startling ending, the movie's sense of time was fluid thanks to an excellent screenplay. Although the movie is lengthy, like many gems of Asian cinema, it was anything but a chore to watch it.

The plot is deceivingly simple, come alive thanks to Jiang's poetic directorial style. His characterization is succinct, but evocative, built up from his own personal memories. His vision of war has many ties to US cinema, with delirious, often hauntingly surreal, images of people trying to reconcile their own individual nature with that of being part of a collective.

I can see why Chinese censors would take offense to the film. China is painted as the victim that it is so often stereotyped as. However, with the country's continued objections against the Japanese glossing over wartime indiscretions, it could be seen as having nationalist overtones. I don't see the film as necessarily sympathetic to the Japanese: at the end of the movie, they are still the "devils". Additionally, when the plot is extrapolated outside of the film itself, the irony is of course that Japan was defeated by a powerful external force due to their brash political maneuvering.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Bright, Shining example of Chinese cinema.

Author: danc1987 from United States
12 November 2007

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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16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

a great chinese film for the new century

Author: yaolingyao from china
5 August 2000

"guizi lai le" is the most improtant chinese film since 1988 when zhang yi mou's "hong gao liang" won the golden bear in berlin. it's a great film to prove the jiang wen's thinking of the whole anti-japanese war and the real chinese,gave us a new version of chinese.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The war is a machine, it eats up humanity

Author: oldblack1 from New York
17 December 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Guizi Lai Le is such a powerful movie that really moves me. Jiang wen's great talent to express humanity in film is approved again. (For those who has not seen his debut: In the Heat of the Sun, you really should not miss it. )

I read this movie as a song for humanity. The fate of characters are so dramatic but at the same time so real. Hanaya, Japanese prisoner, after being held and fed by Chinese villagers, is on the edge of being lifted from a Japanese militarism twisted spirit and turning back into a human. However, when he returns to Japanese troops camp, the humanity is ripped off by reality again. Dasan, Chinese peasant, after the villagers being slaughtered and Japanese surrender, turns into a revenging killer of Japanese prisoners and finally end up with being executed as a criminal by Hanaya. The fate of both reveals the weakness of individual in front of the war. The war is a machine and it eats up the humanity.

The acting is great. I heard two Japanese actors don't want to be in the movie when they know the plot. But finally they did a good job in this movie. The performance, the set, the local dialect are all giving an authentic touch. Plus it's full of humor. Highly recommended!

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