Beijing, 1988. On the cusp of middle-age, Chen Handong has known little but success all his life. The eldest son of a senior government bureaucrat, he heads a fast-growing trading company ... See full summary »



11 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Lan Yu
Chen Handong
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bin Li
Huatong Li ...
Liu Zheng
Shuang Li ...
Jin Su ...
Lin Jingping
Shaohua Zhang ...
Niu Ma
Yongning Zhang ...
Minfen Zhao ...
Handong's mother


Beijing, 1988. On the cusp of middle-age, Chen Handong has known little but success all his life. The eldest son of a senior government bureaucrat, he heads a fast-growing trading company and plays as hard as he works. Few know that Handong's tastes run more to boys than girls. Lan Yu is a country boy, newly arrived in Beijing to study architecture. More than most students, he is short of money and willing to try anything to earn some. He has run into Liu Zheng, who pragmatically suggests that he could prostitute himself for one night to a gay pool-hall and bar owner. But Handong happens to be in the pool hall that evening, and he nixes the deal. He takes Lan Yu home himself and gives the young man what turns out to be a life-changing sexual initiation. Handong and Lan Yu meet often, and the boy is soon very secure in his love for the man. But Handong insists that he wants a play-mate, not a lifelong companion, and warns Lan Yu that they will eventually break up. Meanwhile, he showers... Written by Strand Releasing <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and some language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:





Release Date:

22 November 2001 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Histoire d'hommes à Pékin  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,838 (USA) (12 July 2002)


$116,192 (USA) (13 June 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema)

Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Liu Ye and Hun Jun worked on their rapport only four times before production, playing basketball (of which Liu at 6-foot-1 was a star player at school) and dining. They spent time with their respective girlfriend and wife present, to clarify their romance will only be fictional. See more »


When Chen Handong takes Lan Yu home for the first time, an American television show is playing in the background, and the announcer says "not only is Los Angeles the largest city in California, but it is also the state capitol." This is wrong, Sacramento is the state capitol of California. See more »

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User Reviews

Well-crafted drama with a few surprises...
17 September 2003 | by (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) – See all my reviews

Generally I'm not a big fan of melodrama, and LAN YU is a classic, Sirk-league piece of melodrama, so I can't say I loved this film. But it is impressive in a number of ways - the depiction of intimacy, and of a slowly-developing relationship is very well done, and this film is very obviously the work of a thoughtful and talented filmmaker. I also liked the cinematography - very un-flashy, which serves the material well: a dry, slice-of-life look which stands apart from the dramatics of the plot, and definitely underscores the normality (or validity) of gay relationships, perhaps in a culture that is still coming to terms with such relationships. The dinner scenes - which are beautifully shot and staged - stand out.

It should be noted that director Stanley Kwan has a handful of other artistically notable films to his credit, with ROUGE and ACTRESS generating acclaim around the globe. Kwan claims Hollywood melodramatist Douglas Sirk and Japanese contemporary dramatist Yasujiro Ozu as major influences, and both of those influences are apparent here

  • the studied, careful mis-en-scene of Ozu; and a story balanced

between social critique and three-hanky melodrama, in the fashion of Sirk. Kwan is also one of a small (but growing) number of out Asian filmmakers, and noting this (and his artistic influences) helps to understand the overall importance of this film.

If some of the most creative and engaging gay film being made today is coming from Asia, Europe and Latin America - which I believe to be true
  • then this film is definitely among the best of that wave. Worth a


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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