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The Founding of a Republic (2009)
"Jian guo da ye" (original title)

5.1
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 2,052 users  
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Inspired by true events, Founding of a Republic weaves a rousing tale of one man who fought against the tyranny of a ruler and led his people in battle in the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

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Title: The Founding of a Republic (2009)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Guoqiang Tang ...
...
...
Jin Liu ...
...
Chiang Ching-kuo
Wufu Wang ...
Zhu De
...
Li Zongren
Sha Liu ...
Liu Shaoqi
Bing Wang ...
Zhang Lan
...
...
Member of CPPCC
Zongdi Xiu ...
Fu Zuoyi
...
Tian Han
Yiwei Liu ...
Li Huang
Jun Hu ...
Gu Zhutong
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Storyline

Inspired by true events, Founding of a Republic weaves a rousing tale of one man who fought against the tyranny of a ruler and led his people in battle in the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History

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Release Date:

17 September 2009 (China)  »

Also Known As:

The Founding of a Republic  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party founding of China. The film boasts the most number of China's movie stars in one film. Many of the top stars were invited to star as leads, supporting characters, or just cameo in the film, reportedly including some of the top Chinese stars like 'Jackie Chan' and Jet Li, who only have one shot or one line in the film. See more »

Quotes

Li Ji-chen: I heard you intend to resign. Even if you were to resign, at least wait till after the capitulation ceremony in Nanjing. You helped defeat the Japanese. The ceremony can't do without a national hero like you.
Chen Shaokuan: If I don't resign, very soon I'll be blamed for the civil war. We fought against the country's enemy for 8 years. We've struggled, we've fought all, nothing more need be said. And now that we've won, we're still warring. Against whom ? Chinese people fighting Chinese people... this kind of...
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User Reviews

 
A sanitized and uninformative view of history
13 December 2010 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

The year is 1945. The two leaders of China's civil war meet in Chongching and agree to form a coalition government and prepare for peace and democracy.

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, one side - the Nationalists (KMT) under Chiang Kai-Shek - decides it rather prefers to go back to the war, and the Communists (CPC) under Mao defends the future of Chinese democracy.

Throughout the film, Mao is a benign presence. He's greatly admired by his followers and considerate even to his cook, mourning him when he's killed. He plays and dances with children. He is stoic in the face of disaster and he remains keen to include other parties (the Chinese Democracy League and even the KMT, although not Chiang) in a coalition government before bringing democratic reform. He takes decisions by reaching a consensus and demonstrates decisive wisdom by implementing land ownership reforms. At one point, and without any sense of irony, Mao says before giving a direct order, "I'll be a dictator for a change". Without any cities in their hands Mao plans a new country: the lack of a city for a capital is phlegmatically described as "inadequate" by the Great Helmsman.

Meanwhile, the KMT has problems. The party is split with factions conspiring against Chiang Kai-Shek. Assassinations are organised. Corruption in areas they control is rampant - it's "in the bones" of the KMT, says Chiang, revealingly. There are food shortages and rampant black-marketing. Chiang is apparently another benign presence, but seemingly impotent in the face of such problems. Elsewhere, KMT soldiers and agents kill pro- democracy activists.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But that's precisely the problem with the film: the history.

For overall, the film is a rather pedestrian telling of an alternative version of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Any sense of drama is limp like a balloon deflating, and thus fails. The dialogue is preoccupied with explaining events and giving background rather than (say) developing characters and it feels at times like a dramatised documentary. Indeed, in a couple of places, it even uses archive footage.

As we know, though, this isn't just a film: it has (another) Official History to tell and tell it it will, come what may. It is an Orwellian exercise.

The revision of Chiang Kai-Shek has been remarked upon above but the point missed. Chiang has been rehabilitated to a certain extent as a great Chinese patriot, although one who is mistaken. A key scene in the film occurs with his son: the KMT are deciding to negotiate with the CPC, and the proposal is that China be divided along the Yangtze River. Chiang himself says that this would be something he would never allow. This is in line with the "one China" ideology espoused by the CPC, and also by today's KMT, even if they can't agree precisely what that China is.

We know that Chiang and Mao were both ruthless dictators who both could be personally cruel and who both presided over corrupt regimes. Both before and after 1949, both were responsible for the murder of large numbers of their own citizens, although Mao wins the numbers game if we're counting corpses. We also know that the remarked upon land reforms of Mao - who is officially 30 percent wrong - were a catastrophic failure, while those of Chiang Kai-Shek in the 1950s were in fact a success.

Finally, we also know that democracy was never really the intention of either leader. The references to democracy in the film are surely in very poor taste when - as I write this - Liu Xiabo, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace, languishes in jail and a number of his peers were earlier killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989 for demanding precisely that: democracy in China.


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