Jasmine Flower (2004)
"Mo li hua kai" (original title)

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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 666 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 5 critic

Generational family saga set in Shanghai in the thirties, sixties and eighties.



(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mr. Meng
Xia Du
Yi Lu ...
Zou Jie


Generational family saga set in Shanghai in the thirties, sixties and eighties.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family | Romance


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Release Date:

26 April 2006 (China)  »

Also Known As:

Blossoming Jasmine  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


CNY 19,950,000 (estimated)

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User Reviews

Great performances by Zhang and Chen; inconsistent stories
3 November 2015 | by (Gainesville, Virginia) – See all my reviews

Ziyi Zhang is an amazing actress, conveying so much with a turn of the head, a shift in that dancer's body, a flash of her eyes. Who can forget her seething raw power in *Crouching Tiger*, her vindictiveness in *Hero*, her transcendence in *House of Flying Daggers*, her naïve cuteness in *The Road Home*? How many other actresses have such range, can command a scene like she can? If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be "exquisite."

*Jasmine Women* takes full advantage of Miss Zhang's range. The film is divided into three chapters following a family through the middle part of 20th Century China. Zhang (as well as Joan Chen) each play a different role in the three chapters.

Chapter 1 ("Grandmother"): Zhang plays the part of Mo. The setting is pre-Communist urban China. Western styles are in vogue. Teenage Mo spends her time going to movies, poring through film magazines and dreaming about handsome movie stars. But her mom (Chen) disapproves. One day a movie producer walks in, sees Mo's pretty face, and invites her for a photo shoot. He's suave in his neat western suit and in his ability to speak English. Mother *really* disapproves.

But Mo has stars in her eyes. She ends up with her picture on the cover of a trade magazine and she is set up in a hotel suite. (Mother really, really disapproves.). But, as Mo says, "He's really a nice guy" and he treats her well. So well, in fact, that she ends up pregnant. Mother by this time is apoplectic.

Circumstances find Mo having to fend for herself and so she moves back home. She has to fend off the advances of her lecherous "Uncle Wang," manage to get along with her mother, and learn how to care for her baby.

This is the best of the three chapters. Both Zhang and Chen do a fine job, Zhang as the cute star-struck teenager turned single mother and Chen as the mom who knows best for her daughter but is powerless to force her out of her headstrong ways.

Chapter 2 ("Mother") takes us to a point 18 years later, toward the beginning of Chairman Mao's rise to power. Mo's baby from the first chapter ("Lily") has grown up and is now played by Zhang. The middle-aged Mo is now played by Chen.

Lily attaches herself to an up-and-coming Party member, Jie. All his talk about "the great socialism" and getting the people back to farming for the collective good gives her the dreamy sighs. She takes Jie home to meet her mom and as one would expect, the western- hating young communist and the faded movie star do not get along. Anyway, Lily marries Jie and moves in with his family at a socialist collective.

As one brought up in western/capitalistic ways, Lily's move into the life of a commune worker/wife does not exactly work out. I'm not sure what she thought life on a socialist collective was going to be like—it's not like Jie misled her. It was about this point in the film that things starting ringing a little false with me. We are not given any real reason why she was attracted to this guy in the first place and why she was originally so taken with the socialist movement. Idealism? Rebelling against mom and her outmoded dreams of the past?

Lily soon figures out that she hates her new life. It seems like she is willing to divorce Jie because she dislikes doing the collective laundry. She stomps off back to home. This is where I started paying more attention to "Why is she acting like that? It makes no sense" than to the story itself. Which is too bad, because I really wanted to get caught up in the drama.

Jie actually turns out to be an okay husband, coming back for Lily and even suggesting that they adopt a daughter when it turns out Lily can't get pregnant. As the chapter plays out, however, most other behaviors and scenes seem to be arbitrary and come out of left field. As for Lily—well, the best way to put it is that she goes a bit nutso. This is the weakest of the three chapters, in my opinion.

Chapter 3 ("Daughter") is the story of A Hua, the adopted daughter of Lily and Jie. A Hua is now in her early 20s and is played by Zhang, an interesting choice because A Hua was adopted into the family, thus negating the need for a family resemblance. The one constant is Mo, now at granny age and still played by Chen. Lily and Jie are out of the picture, so the story focuses on the relationship between A Hua and her grandmother. (Anyone with a predilection for the bookish librarian type will really appreciate Miss Zhang in this segment, with her eyeglasses and university student look. I know I did.)

Anyway, A Hua finds a fella, Du. They are in love, and again we are treated to a dinner table scene as a guy is brought home for approval. A Hua and Du get married, there are conflicts--we know the drill by now.

This is a welcome step up from the second chapter, and keeps it up for the most part. Even so, the climax and dénouement come across as arbitrarily drastic and melodramatic, but things end on a life-affirming note. (But would a modern Chinese city gal, nine months pregnant and living alone, really not have a telephone?)

In summary, don't watch Jasmine Women for the story. Instead, relish the performances. Zhang and Chen each has to play several different characters of widely different types and ages, and they do it very well.

And did I mention that Ziyi Zhang is exquisite?

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