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In a village of fishermen in Japan, Takata misses his son Kenichi, to whom he has been estranged for many years. When his daughter-in-law Rie tells him that Kenichi is sick in the hospital, she suggests Takata to come to Tokyo to visit his son in the hospital where he would have the chance to retie the relationship. However, Kenichi refuses to receive his father in his room, and Rie gives a videotape to Takata to know about the work of his son. Once at home, Takata sees a documentary in the remote village Lijiang, in the province of Younnan, about the passion of Kenichi, the Chinese opera, where the lead singer Li Jiamin promises to sing an important folk opera on the next year. When Rie calls Takata to tell that her husband has a terminal liver cancer, Takata decides to travel to Lijiang to shoot Li Jiamin singing the opera to give to Kenichi. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the village scene Mr. Takata has to move to the highest location to make a phone call. In the following scene however he can receive phone calls while at a banquet in the lower part of the village. See more »
Getting into the human equation and away from acrobatic flying daggers, director Yimou Zhang spins solid gold in his latest film, RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES.
Set against the stunningly picturesque Yunnan Province in southwestern China, Gou-ichi Takata (Ken Takakura) leaves his beloved Japanese fishing village to travel thousands of miles and finish video recording a famous Chinese folk opera for his dying son.
Mr. Takata and his son have become distant since the death of Mr. Takata's wife, not speaking to one another for years. When word comes to him that his son, Ken-ichi, is in the hospital, Mr. Takata races to the city only to be rebuffed by his son's bitterness. Mr. Takata never sees his Ken-ichi, but his son's wife, Rie (Shinobu Terajima), tells Mr. Takata an interesting story about his love of Chinese folk dancing. She hands him an unfinished tape of Ken-ichi's work and, after watching it, Mr. Takata decides to finish the recording. "Not being good with people," Mr. Takata immediately encounters problems when he enters China. But he learns quickly, and finds humility within himself in order to finish the tape.
Mr. Takata knew that his son wanted to film one particular opera (also called Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles) sung by one particular Chinese man named Li. But Li is in prison after stabbing a man. Getting permission to film Li performing the folk dance from the government higher-ups becomes one of Mr. Takata's earliest obstacles. Then, after gaining access, Mr. Li has a meltdown, thinking about his own distant son. Emotional beyond repair, Mr. Li is unable to dance for Mr. Takata. So Mr. Takata leaves to come back another day ...but an idea is sparked in his head.
Mr. Takata goes to "The Stone Village" to see if he can convince Mr. Li's five-year-old son to come back with him to the prison so that he can visit. What follows is one of the most emotionally impacting moments in Chinese film history. Unable to be close to his own son, Mr. Takata transfers much of his emotional heft onto young Yang Yang (Mr. Li's son), and audiences will no doubt spill plenty of tears as this happens.
The beauty of the surrounding countryside in the Yunnan Province is an awesome spectacle to behold; a backdrop that towers in all its majesty.
Ken Takakura deserves Oscar mention for his quiet yet powerful (and heartbreaking) role as the conflicted and determined Mr. Takata.
All of the other actors are not actors, though. They are ordinary people picked by the director for their appearances and mannerisms; excellently done by the way. There's little doubt most will know that none of them have acting experience unless DVD watchers click on the extra features.
A brilliantly done foreign film that proves director Yimou Zhang isn't just an action freak.
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