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
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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