The story is tight. The flow is natural and simple.
The whole script is well written. Many well developed, colorful characters. The direction is so-so.
The first half is OK. But it suffered in the following areas: 1. Many peripheral characters were too similar to the protagonist. Even the voices are similar. 2. The director doesn't seem to know how to shoot the night scenes. It seems there is no guy who knows how to do lighting.
The second half is excellent. The characters such as Yu Zhen, Dong LaoLi, the little boy ShuanZi, are all very well written and well played roles. The female lead actress is so good, she lights up the entire screen.
This movie was made in 1979. It contains just a little bit of one Communist's doctrine: class warfare. Surprisingly, the movie has a lot of references to Buddism, Eastern religions, and traditional Chinese moral values.
The movie is full of emotions. It has a feeling of realism. It also plays well at the psychic level.
Even with the drawbacks I mentioned earlier, the writer/director Li Jun has done a marvelous job. This is really a gem, and a classic.
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