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The Flowers of War (2011)
"Jin ling shi san chai" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  16 December 2011 (China)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 36,452 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 130 user | 134 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

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.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Xinyi Zhang ...
Shu (as Zhang Xinyi)
Tianyuan Huang ...
George Chen (as Huang Tianyuan)
Xiting Han ...
Yi (as Han Xiting)
Doudou Zhang ...
Ling (as Zhang Doudou)
Dawei Tong ...
Major Li
Atsuro Watabe ...
Colonel Hasegawa
Kefan Cao ...
Mr. Meng (as Cao Kefan)
Yangchunzi Yuan ...
Mosquito (as Yuan Yangchunzi)
Jia Sun ...
Hua (as Sun Jia)
Yuemin Li ...
Dou (as Li Yuemin)
Bai Xue ...
Takashi Yamanaka ...
Lieutenant Asakura
Shigeo Kobayashi ...
Lieutenant Kato


In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor. Written by msmith5484

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, disturbing images, and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

16 December 2011 (China)  »

Also Known As:

13 Flowers of Nanjing  »

Box Office


$94,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$48,558 (USA) (20 January 2012)


$9,213 (USA) (17 May 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The second fully Chinese-funded film to have a Hollywood star in the lead. The first one being Inseparable (2011) starring Kevin Spacey. See more »


Spin-off Si Shi Jiu Ri Ji (2014) See more »


Requiem And Redemption (Commander Li And The Children)
Performed by No. 171 Middle School Jinfan Choir
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

best Zhang Yimou film in the past several years
18 December 2011 | by (Beijing, China) – See all my reviews

Watched "The flowers of war" on Dec 19, 2011, the 2nd day this film was released in mainland China. The movie theater is fully packed. This is the best film directed by Zhang Yimou after "Hero" in 2002. This is not a surprise because in my opinion all his films after "Hero" have very awful/terrible screen scripts, while this one is based on a well composed novel. The story is about how a dozen of prostitutes saved girl students from uncivilized Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing(Nanking) massacre period (starting from Dec. 13, 1937, lasted for two weeks, 300,000 murdered, 80,000 raped). To Chinese, this is the saddest and most humiliated moment in the 20th century. The script is not based on true stories, painfully the true stories are much worse, because there wasn't a savior, there's only constant desperation. The characters themselves are well described. The logic flow and mentality transition in this film are not delineated very well. I still gave it 8 out 10 because I think it's due to the limitation of the film's length. As always, Mr. Bale is good at acting in this film, but definitely not his best character such as those in "American Psycho" or "The Prestige". The two leading actresses are both new face. They'll become very famous in China after this film, but I don't think their performances are as impressive as Gong Li, who collaborated with Zhang Yimou in many of his early works. Last but not the least, there is a 1-minute romance scene which I think is the worst part in this film, because under such a tragic circumstance it's very unnatural to practice love, and it dampens the character build-up in many ways.

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