MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 9,730 this week

City of Life and Death (2009)
"Nanjing! Nanjing!" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  22 April 2009 (China)
7.7
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,748 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 60 user | 144 critic | 13 from Metacritic.com

In 1937, Japan occupied Nanjing, the Chinese capital. There was a battle and subsequent atrocities against the inhabitants, especially those who took refuge in the International Security Zone.

Director:

Writer:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 26 Dec 2010
 
a list of 45 titles
created 09 Mar 2013
 
a list of 47 titles
created 27 Jul 2013
 
a list of 24 titles
created 06 Sep 2013
 
a list of 27 titles
created 3 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: City of Life and Death (2009)

City of Life and Death (2009) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of City of Life and Death.

User Polls

11 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Nanking (2007)
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Through readings of historical account by actors and the testimony of survivors, the events of the Nanjing Massacre are recounted.

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman
Stars: Hugo Armstrong, Rosalind Chao, Stephen Dorff
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A moving true story about volunteers protecting antelope against poachers in the severe mountains of Tibet.

Director: Chuan Lu
Stars: Duobujie, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao
Action | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The story of two warring generals (Liu Bang and Xiang Yu) fighting for control of China at the end of the Qin Dynasty.

Director: Chuan Lu
Stars: Ye Liu, Daniel Wu, Chen Chang
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Stars: Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl, Steve Buscemi
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Small-town policeman Ma Shan wakes up one morning to discover that his gun is missing. During his search, things take a sinister turn when his first love turns up dead and the bullet appears to be from his gun.

Director: Chuan Lu
Stars: Wen Jiang, Nina Huang Fan, Shi Liang
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Behind Forgotten eyes combines first-hand accounts from both Korean women and Japanese soldiers who lived through one of the worst atrocities in humankind. This is almost out for these women and their stories.

Director: Anthony Gilmore
Stars: Yunjin Kim
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

During the Japanese occupation of China, two prisoners are dumped in a peasant's home in a small town. The owner is bullied into keeping the prisoners until the next New Year, at which time... See full summary »

Director: Wen Jiang
Stars: Wen Jiang, Kenya Sawada, Yihong Jiang
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1937, Japanese troops raid the Chinese city of Nanking to execute a planned massacre by subjecting over 300,000 helpless civilians to various tortures and atrocities before slaughtering them all.

Director: Tun Fei Mou
Stars: Liang Zhang, Yung Pan, Shao-tien Hsiung
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The story begins on a bus, when white-collar worker Ye refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen. Her defiance is videotaped by a journalist intern and played during a news show. The ... See full summary »

Director: Kaige Chen
Stars: Yuanyuan Gao, Chen Yao, Mark Chao
Nan Jing 1937 (1995)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In December 1937, during the Second Japanese-Sino War, a Chinese doctor, his Japanese pregnant wife, their teenage daughter and their young son travel from Shanghai to Nanjing seeking ... See full summary »

Director: Ziniu Wu
Stars: Han Chin, Ai Saotome, Rene Liu
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Director: Qunshu Gao
Stars: Joe Bosco, Yongdai Ding, Damian Lau
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Lu Jianxiong
...
Miss Jiang
Hideo Nakaizumi ...
Kadokawa
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wei Fan ...
Mr. Tang
Yiyan Jiang ...
Xiao Jiang
Ryu Kohata ...
Ida (as Kohata Ryuichi)
Bin Liu ...
Xiaodouzi
Yûko Miyamoto
John Paisley ...
Beverly Peckous ...
Minnie Vautrin
Lan Qin ...
Mrs. Tang
...
Durdin (as You Sima)
Di Yao ...
Tang Xiaomei
Yisui Zhao ...
Shunzi
Edit

Storyline

In 1937, Japan occupied Nanjing, the Chinese capital. There was a battle and subsequent atrocities against the inhabitants, especially those who took refuge in the International Security Zone.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for wartime violence and atrocities including sexual assault, and for some sexuality and brief nudity | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

22 April 2009 (China)  »

Also Known As:

City of Life and Death  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,610 (USA) (13 May 2011)

Gross:

$119,922 (USA) (28 October 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Upon its release in China, it attracted some criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of the Japanese soldier Kadokawa. Director Chuan Lu received online death threats to both himself and his family on the strength of this. See more »

Goofs

After Rabe leaves Nanjin, there is a scene showing the execution of 3 Chinese men tied to posts. After the execution, when the man on the right post is untied and his body laid on the ground by guards, one can clearly see the actor lowering his head down slowly on the ground. The head of a dead body would have dropped more massively. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Amazing piece of cinema, powerful. dramatic, moving
17 May 2009 | by (Berlin, Germany) – See all my reviews

Viewed at the Festival de Cannes 2009 (Market screening)

Since I am not Chinese, or of Chinese extraction, City of Life and Death has a different resonance for me. I know of the Nanking massacre (for which, it has to be said, the Japanese have yet to apologise or even properly acknowledge) from my own interest in history, as well as the John Rabe story (the Nazi who helped save thousands of Chinese civilians, until recalled to Germany since Hitler did not wish to upset his Japanese allies).

Therefore, for me, City of Life and Death retells a fearful part of history, but not one with which I have any direct connection. So while this film may resonate a certain way for Chinese viewers, be they from the mainland, Hong Kong or overseas Chinese, I can tell you that I, as a European, have seldom seen a film so powerful, gripping, dramatic and moving.

City of Life and Death is not nationalistic propaganda or a reversioning for the screen: no punches are pulled. The woman next to me was in tears. So be warned, this is not easy viewing. But by featuring on a few characters, allowing them to become fully three-dimensional human beings (not Chinese, not Asian, but human beings who live, love and feel) director Lu Chuan makes his audience feel and share their fear and terror as the Japanese invaders commit atrocity after atrocity on the fallen city's inhabitants. Never forget, this actually happened.

If anything, Lu Chuan soft pedals on the horrors. They are depicted, but are not front and centre. This is not a horror film so gore hounds and ghouls should seek their thrills elsewhere. Rather, it is the arbitrariness with which the Japanese went about their murderous work that scares. Wrong place, wrong time: rape, torture, murder. This wasn't the efficient, methodical murder the Nazis introduced, but rather cold brutality, as a cat toys with a helpless mouse. Unthinking, unreasoning, just because.

Filmed in black and white, City has so many images and scenes that remain fixed in you mind long after the final credits have rolled. Lu Chuan even selects the grain and grading according to the action. The use of colour would, in this case, have weakened the film.

But if City of Life and Death were just two hours of suffering it would be unworthy of an audience. So Lu Chuan gives us the central characters of Mr. Tang (John Rabe's secretary), Miss Jiang (a schoolteacher) and Kadokawa (a sensitive Japanese soldier who witness but cannot delay the unspeakable). All of them are helplessly swept up in the maelstrom, which Lu Chuan leavens with scenes of (attempts at) normal life, normal human interaction and naked attempts at survival. These are people with whom one can identify and empathise.

Yet, at heart, City of Life and Death is extremely uplifting. The message, at the end, is positive and optimistic. In writing this review, the film is coming back to me again. What I once read, black and white on a page, has been made real for me and, yes, I'm emotionally moved by it.

If you believe in the power of film, want a break from popcorn entertainment, are looking for a film that can make you feel (as opposed to having your emotions manipulated) then please go see this one. It's rare when I think a film should be seen, deserves to be seen, but City of Life and Death belong in that very rare category.


114 of 131 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Historical not Historic Reality WilhelmDutchie
The dance Zhyper
Why did Mr. Tang stay in Nanking? msimic
This is a movie about life value Dennis_fcb
The statue of Sun Yat Sen being pulled down. bbc100
Why Has the Film Title Been Changed? theMidnightSun
Discuss City of Life and Death (2009) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?