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I'm afraid I have to disagree with the other reviewers. I just spent $4.99 renting this film from Time Warner Cable and it was not money well spent. Having been excited by the splendid and creative resurgence of Chinese cinema in the reform period, especially in the 1980s when it burst on the international scene with classics like Yellow Earth (Huang Tudi), it was surprising to see such a throwback to the 1950s and 1960s. This is very much like The Opium War, though the battleship in this film is clearly not a model. In those days (the 1960s), western actors were not available, since China was closed to the outside world, so they had to use some of the few expatriate English language teachers. It looks like they have done the same this time, though surely Jackie Chan could have got anyone he wanted from Hollywood. The characterisation is one- dimensional. The dialogue sounds like it is from the history books, with the film merely providing visual illustration. There are lots of close- ups of Sun Yat-sen taken from below or with him standing in a presidential position, exactly like the shots of Mao Zedong in earlier films about the Communist revolution. This is understandable -- Sun has always been considered the "father of the nation" (guo fu) by both the Communists and the Guomindang, who warred for decades -- but Sun is too interesting a character to be treated to the standard Stalinist "cult of personality" adulation. He was not, after all, a Kim Jong-Il. He was a real politician. He wrote a development plan for China. He planned, but did not live to lead, a Northern Expedition to reunite China under a republican government. The style of the movie seems to be heavily influenced by pre-war Soviet films (not, though, those of the brilliant Eisenstein and Pudovkin). It is surprising that Jackie Chan co-directed it. Surely he could have injected much more of his own cheeky humour? this film is so old-fashioned. I agree it would not have been centenary- reverential to have had fast cuts and rap music, but the slow-motion sentimental flashbacks are so hackneyed. Politically, the film doesn't say anything interesting and blithely ignores the unconscious irony of Sun saying that the Chinese people can now choose their own leaders after two hundred years of monarchy. One hundred years later, they still can't.
11 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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