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Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
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Biopic of feminist-revolutionary hero Qiu Jin: interesting woman; OK movie.
There are just a couple of long and detailed reviews (with heaps of spoilers and no warning!) from people who clearly know far more about the subject than me. I wanted to add a more typical non-expert view.
This is the life-story of Qiu Jin, a famous Chinese feminist, revolutionary and poet, who lived at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. The fact that such a woman could exist at that time and place and the historical background on the political situation in the far east are all fascinating.
As for the technical side, the acting is fine, especially the lead, Huang Yi, and the film is competently directed, excellently shot, and generally feels authentic. This film uses the device of opening almost at the end, then going back to the start of Qiu Jin's life, and alternating the two strands from there on an approach I always dislike as it guarantees built-in spoilers. However this was made for the Chinese market and, this being a significant historical figure, most viewers will know the main events of her life before they start watching.
My only other gripe concerns that fairly common aspect of Chinese cinema, kung fu. While the real Qiu Jin was a more than competent practitioner of various martial arts (in her most famous photo, she holds an unsheathed dagger ready) she was more political leader than action hero. This otherwise serious film has the usual very long and often rather improbable fight sequences: on one occasion she gratuitously leaves a carriage to flatten dozens of armed soldiers to stop them harassing the poor peasants, while her husband and child look on. In itself the martial arts is well-choreographed and exciting, with Huang Li again doing a good job, and I did enjoy it, but I have to question the balance. This film might have been better without some of the very long fight sequences, especially those not involving the main character.
In summary: if you're interested in Chinese or feminist history, or if you like a kung fu film with a more serious message, then you should enjoy this a lot. Even if you don't like any of these aspects, it's still better than most new films you'll see.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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