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Made to coincide with the centenary of the original event, 1911 REVOLUTION is a film that celebrates China's rise from the tyranny of the Qing dynasty into the modern era. It's an unashamedly patriotic movie, with clear-cut heroes and villains, and one that seeks to portray a politically complex situation in a massive country, on an international scale, in the space of two hours. The resultant film is an educational ride and historically interesting, but one that falls down when it comes to the basic facets of movie-making.
The film tries to be both a gutsy war film dominated by explosive battle sequences and a compelling political epic, featuring scenes from both sides involved in the revolution. Unfortunately, the editing is quite choppy and the battle scenes, although technically proficient, end up disappointing as you're left wanting more. Characterisation is virtually nil; Jackie bags the best role as the rebellious leader and has a few great action scenes, but everybody else feels like a player in a historical drama, never really coming to full life as they should. There are lots of familiar Chinese actors in various parts, but none of them make much of an impact here.
It's a shame, because there's a film with a similar focus, set five years previously, called BODYGUARDS & ASSASSINS, and I found it absolutely spellbinding. That movie manages to mix in the political intrigue and dramatic backdrop of the situation while at the same time telling a rollicking, action-packed storyline filled with melodrama and excitement. Yes, it was silly and over the top in places, but I'd rather that than this slightly stuffy and occasionally lifeless production that fails to engage the senses along with the intellect.
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