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Beijing: young men in packs, machismo, class divisions, violence, and indifference. Guei arrives from the country: toothbrushes, hotel foyers, and Qin, a rich neighbor in high heels, dazzle him. He gets a job as a messenger. The company issues him a bike, which he must pay for out of his wages. When it is stolen, Guei hunts for it. A student, Jian, has it; for him, it's the key to teen society - with his pals and with Xiao, a girl he fancies. Guei finds the bike and stubbornly tries to reclaim it in the face of great odds. But for Jian to lose the bike would mean humiliation. The two young men - and the people around them - are swept up in the youths' desperation. Written by
Excellent film; could possibly be a critical hit in the U.S.
When you read a synopsis of Beijing Bicycle, it may remind you of Vittorio de Sica's 1948 masterpiece The Bicycle Thieves. A poor man, having recently come to the city from the country, wins a job at a bicycle courier business, and, on a delivery, gets his bike stolen. He then proceeds to search the city of Beijing to retrieve it. Luckily, it quickly veers away from being a simple update of that classic story. He finds the alleged thief, a high school kid, and steals it back. For the first hour or more, the bike moves back and forth between them. The two characters are compared and contrasted, and it works as an effective class study.
The direction and editing are particularly great in the film. The climax involves two intersecting chases, and it is one of the best stages sequences I've ever seen. There are a couple of problems, small ones for me, but perhaps big ones for critics and audiences. The high school kid is extraordinarily unlikable. A person behind me declared loudly, "What a brat!" And he is. I personally don't mind if a character is unsympathetic (although we are asked to sympathize with him, I believe). My own biggest problem is that the ending is slightly unsatisfactory. There's not much closure. Still, Beijing Bicycle is an excellent film. 9/10.
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