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Chinaman More at IMDbPro »Kinamand (original title)

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26 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A touching tale of two cultures

8/10
Author: scheller2 from Lyngby, Denmark
20 March 2005

I saw the film today, and seldom have I been so touched by a movie. Not only I, but most of the cinema was going through the emotions of laughing and crying, as we were following the story of Keld and Ling. Being a Dane married to a Chinese woman myself, I could strongly relate to how the oriental mystique and beauty was affecting Keld's life so much. I have always been a great fan of Vivian Wu, and I think that her performance in this movie was great, even though it is a smaller part than for instance my all-time favorite "Pillow Book". Bjarne Henriksen who carries most of the film, gives a great performance, demonstrating what a truly great actor he is. One of my favorite moments in the film is a pan over the area where the main events take place. To me it displayed how fragile life is. It also matches beautifully with a similar pan later in the movie that I will not reveal. I personally think that Henrik Ruben Genz has created a masterpiece.

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25 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Chinaman a very good first

8/10
Author: Bo Larsen from Denmark
2 April 2005

Somebody wrote in a film chat that Vivian Wu is the most beautiful woman in a Danish film ever. She surely is the most beautiful woman in this film, and once she figured on a list of some hundred most beautiful people in the world, though according to my Chinese friends she is not a beauty by Chinese standards. Her presence in this film however is unquestionably delightful. I ascribe this to the camera work, the way she is dressed up and, of course, her beauty.

The way she dresses together with her cooking and decoration skills brings about a marvelous atmosphere enhanced further by the Deng Lijun songs from the early 80s like Yueliang daibiao wode xin and believe it or not Bjørn Tidemanns Lille Sommerfugl. It is not normal (realistic) to wear a qipao (traditional Chinese dress) every day or otherwise dress up for a party every day and the atmosphere is not realistic either. I guess Ling and the atmosphere around her should be seen as a symbol of the mystic and beautiful traditional Chinese culture on a trivial, gray, realistic, modern Copenhagen working class backdrop.

Chinaman is clearly inspired by In the Mood for Love by Wong Karwai; a great choice for inspiration! This is seen in the mood created by slow pace takes of Ling's qipao swaying forth and back to her sensual body moves. In In the Mood for Love, which is also a film where love is implied rather than becoming fleshly, Maggie Cheung changes qipao about 50 times. In Chinaman the focus is on Ling's earrings on which, along with her hips and eyes, the camera lingers. Thereby we as well as Keld (Bjarne Henriksen) are seduced by female and Chinese mystery. I guess it is also for the good of mystery that the Chinese dialogs are not subtitled. It keeps the common Danish viewer just as uninformed as the Danish main character about what is going on.

Chapter headings consisting of Chinese sentences for beginners relate by hint what we are going to see. Overall they seem stupid to me; an original idea that should have been killed, but then there is the mistake! There is a chapter heading that goes something like Will you marry me?, which is also written correctly in Chinese signs but the tape voice says "yi bi hao jiaoyi" - "a good deal". So this "mistake" made on purpose actually points out what the marriage between Keld and Ling is - business, which by the way is also what Keld calls all things he wants to avoid explaining to Ling.

At one point in the film Keld's otherwise gentle temper blows and he delivers an outburst of angry complains that Ling can't speak Danish and other right-wing cliché attitudes. Anyway, Ling's reply in Chinese is much more to the point. She has been sweet and serving so when not appreciated she complains that he never does any house work and that her clothes are smelly from his smoking and that had it been her own house he would have had to smoke outside. Unfortunately he doesn't understand her words, but his next move is to learn to say sorry (duibuqi) which turns out to be important.

Chinese culture is presented here as refined, superior, traditional and beautiful compared to the Danish plumper, his wife and their son. The film offers great respect to Chinese culture. Thanks!

This is the first Chinese Danish film and it is a very good first! I have watched many Chinese Westerner films and I am sure Chinaman is one of the best. 8/10

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Charming romantic comedy

10/10
Author: Mike from Denmark
3 April 2005

I thoroughly enjoyed this heartening and humorous movie. It tales the story of a plumber Keld who is tired of life after his wife has left him. His journey back to life begins when he starts to frequent a Chinese take-away shop. The owner of the take-away shop Feng proposes Keld to marry his sister proforma to acquire a residence permit. An offer Keld accepts.

Kinamand is an untraditional movie that successfully succeeds in capturing boxed emotions, cultural gaps, and the essence of life.

I gave this movie 9/10, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh, and an uplifting experience.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A good story well told.

9/10
Author: robert-spottswood from United States
21 April 2007

Being in the U.S.A., I kept expecting this lovely poignant film to crumble into gratuitous violence or some other cheap surprise. As it went on, keeping everyone's motives human and showing them coming to do the right things in relationships, it ended up resting at the top of my recommendation list (even above Antonia's Line). Besides the simple story and impressive character acting by everyone, the experience and skill apparent in the lighting, color choices and sequence of each scene, the interesting angles of every take, and the top drawer casting were all distractingly above the norm. I kept thinking, 'Wow!' Still not sure why this is in the comedy category. We were out of Kleenex by the end, and totally content. If the English subtitles were big enough to read, it would be perfect.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

combination

10/10
Author: Tao Wang from China
10 February 2007

just watched it.what might i say?it is a good combination,both the film making and the film story.i just like it.sadness may teach people how to survive better,or then we may realize how shall we cherish the life.and the director did a good job to make it a bilingual film.and from there you can get to know how the Chinese are living in Denmark.the Grill's boss Feng,is holding both the old Chinese tradition and the compromising to the Danish culture.while the rest of the family is holding the stubborn attitude for old tradition.you can tell that when Lin doesn't want to make this "marrige".and the young Chiense son,is the reflection about the positive immigration attitude.i really hope people can try to watch and understand this film.then you may feel happier the coming day.best wishes.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Expressing love can be difficult

8/10
Author: CelluloidDog from United States
15 November 2010

A rare gem as a Sino-Danish venture, this film is about the ordinary human existence of living without drama and love unexpressed. Our protagonist is a dumpy, boring plumber who plays chess. Unsurprisingly, his wife of many years is unexcited and wants to leave him. Keld, our plumber, has little to do with little money to spend so he routinely visits a restaurant each night which leads to our story.

Keld, played by Bjarne Henriksen is convincingly boring and homely. His excitement for the day is choosing between #4 and #5 on the Chinese menu. A pro forma marriage to help payments for his divorce turns to be the most colorfully warm moment in his life. He learns to love Ling as he awkwardly fits into the Chinese family. Ling, played by Vivian Wu is mysterious, beautiful, and traditional. One has to wonder whether she loves Bjarne, but it is apparent that she does have a quiet caring affection for him. But neither can verbally communicate love to each other. Another restaurant patron (Kunde) voices first concern for the interracial relationship and then offers wisdom that not expressing love is like purgatory, not between heaven and hell. If you don't do anything, he says, you can't go either way and it is worst.

The acting is terrific, truthful and humble. There are touching moments as when Keld is practicing to profess his feelings in mandarin. Or when his son rats on him to get him in trouble -- the investigators say there was no evidence of a marriage (or love?). So painful for Keld and the audience since we know what is apparent to some isn't true. And there are funny, candid moments such as Keld sitting awkwardly between the elderly couple in the silk robe in front of the Chinese television programming. Or when he pretends to speak of love in mandarin in front of the immigration official.

A quiet gem of the ordinary human experience. Even a boring existence is priceless.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Denmark, with some believable twists, beautifully rendered

7/10
Author: secondtake from United States
5 August 2010

Chinaman (2005)

A completely sweet, slow but never plodding, predictable but never boring movie. Yes, all those things. It's the sweetness of the main character, who is admittedly a bit of a lug wrench socially, who lifts this story very far. His love interest, of sorts, is perhaps too restrained (we would say inscrutable in the old days), but maybe that's appropriate. I have a funny feeling not really, not necessarily, in 2005.

But overall, there is an update of what multiculti means in contemporary Europe, and in a prosaic way. Beautifully, but again respectfully, filmed, and acted with gentle, precise, grace. A nice film, a very good film, and certainly a feel good film whatever the tragic aspects. I'd not miss it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Why are so few American films this gentle and rewarding?

8/10
Author: clehoullier from Raleigh, NC
17 March 2009

It wasn't the best film we've ever seen (Under the Sun takes that prize, but certainly one of the best we've seen recently. Calmly and patiently paced, a few minor twists here and there - well and subtly acted, and beautifully filmed, this was one of those Netflix recommendations that really paid off. All of the characters were wonderful and the camera was very kind to them all. The movie just exudes humanity. After the wretched experience of Happy Go Lucky (could there be a more annoying recent film), this one was like a balm for the senses. And at a bit under 90 minutes, a perfect length for the story. Highly recommended.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I am pretty sure that a decent number of folks won't like the way this film ends, but I thought it was terrific.

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
2 August 2013

"Chinaman" is a deceptive film. While it appears very simple and perhaps even a comedy on the surface, the film is much deeper, more sensitive and very engaging. I must warn you though, this is NOT a film everyone will like. It does not have a happy Hollywood style ending and the film is pretty unconventional. As for me, I liked that the film didn't try to fit a formula and didn't even mind the sad portions of the film. But I do recommend you have some Kleenex nearby--just in case.

At the beginning of the film, Keld's wife tells him that she's leaving him for good. You have absolutely no idea why or what their marriage had been like--all you know is that she wants out as soon as possible. Not surprisingly, Keld is depressed and directionless--and Bjarne Henriksen makes this very apparent in his performance. Part of his depression and directionless is evident in his habits. He goes to the same Chinese restaurant every night and he sells off all his furniture. Sitting in an empty apartment, Keld is just drifting through life--waiting for his divorce to be final.

One evening when he's at the Chinese restaurant, the place's plumbing goes crazy and Keld jumps into action. After all, he is a plumber. And through the course of this, Keld and the owner of the restaurant become friends--so much so that his new friend makes him a VERY unusual proposition. He wants Keld to marry his sister, Ling, in order to allow her to remain in the country. Naturally, it will be a marriage in name only. She'll move in with Keld but their relationship will be business. However, rather expectedly, a closeness develops between them and after a while, Keld realizes he's falling in love with his new wife. Now the rest of the film is NOT what you'd expect--it is a very unusual film to say the least. But, Henriksen's excellent performance and the film's nice direction and script really hooked me. A very unusual and bittersweet film--and one that left me very impressed.

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