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

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  22 April 2009 (China)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,921 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 61 user | 145 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.

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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
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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 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

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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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu province in China. Its name means Southern Capital. 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 »

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User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: City of Life and Death
3 October 2009 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

The last Rape of Nanking event film I had watched, was the docu-drama Nanking back in 2006 during the Hong Kong International Film Festival. With interviews conducted with real survivors, I was riveted to listen to their account of the atrocities conducted by the Japanese soldiers, and you empathize with them as they relive their memory and make them known. The dramatic elements were nicely presented as well, with notable names reading off memoirs and letters pertaining to individual episodes, which collectively make up the brutal horror, a living hell if you would, of the conditions of occupation.

Lu Chuan of Kekexili fame has crafted this fine film that looks into 2 broad episodes – the first few hours of occupation which will satisfy action junkies, and the later half which looked into the atrocities that were committed some 1 week into occupation, from within an international safety zone set up by Westerners, led by German John Rabe, who gets some concession by virtue of Nazi Germany being Japan's ally.

There's the controversial aspect of the film though, where it doesn't demonize the invading force right away. Instead, I lauded its realistic portrayal of the human condition of Fear when we go into the unknown, and this emotion gets vividly captured in the first few minutes of the movie, setting the tone of the entire film, where fear drives us to do inhumane, barbaric acts. That being said, it doesn't shy away from reenacting the atrocities committed against the Chinese, from bayonet stabbings, mass burials of breathing souls, burning and the machine gunning of surviving soldiers, and rape.

Filled with plenty of characters each given a specific purpose in the film, either representative of an historical legend, or collectively as a group, it makes you feel for the individual with documentary-like precision, and I am somewhat intrigued at how one can feel so much through the simple camera work of going real close to the actor's face, and lingering onwards to capture moments of despair and bewilderment.

If there's one film you should see this year, then don't miss this one. I only hope that it gets played in a decent cinema hall with a great sound system, otherwise it'll do this film no justice. Certainly a contender for one of my films of the year, and comes highly recommended!


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