Reviews written by
|3 reviews in total|
Look, I'm not going to analyze the crazy comedic style or the lack of
maturity in the film's jokes but I will say this:
This is the only movie I've seen where I almost choked half to death from drinking a smoothie and laughing at this film.
This is the only movie where for 3 times, I had to leave the room to quell the stomach cramps I was getting from laughing so much.
This is the only movie where I spontaneously burst into laughter whenever I think of certain scenes in the film.
Yea... it's stupid... but I never laughed so hard before. And that's the whole point.
One of the best Chinese films...ever!
The story was touching and brilliant, packed with unforgettable scenes: The Dickens-like portrayal of the young Peking opera performers undergoing training was heart-breaking. The presence of Japanese, Nationalist and Communnist troops were powerful reminders of Modern China's torrential times. The class struggle scene was a painfully poignant reference to the inhumanity of Maoist China (especially for those Chinese old-timers who vividly remember the days of the Cultural Revolution). And off course, the last scene was nothing short of stunning. It begs the viewer to open another box of tissues.
One scene that particularly had me in tears was when Douzi was going through his opium withdrawal and he starts shivering, "It's so cold. Mother, the water's frozen." It was clearly a heart-breaking reference to the earlier days of his arduous youth.
The acting was also superb. Leslie Cheung's portrayal of the effeminate Douzi was hynoptically convincing. (Especially compared to his usual roles in HK action flicks). Gong Li constantly demands our attention with her stunning beauty and charm. Last but not least, Zhang Fengyi's portrayal of the masculine Shitou was excellent. I can't imagine anyone else taking his role.
It's refreshing to see such an intelligent and historic Chinese epic (especially after watching all those deadbrain gun-toting HK action flicks) Director Chen Kaige did a wonderful job portraying the complex and often uneasy love affair between the two stage brothers. He also managed to skillfully express profound themes that resonated throughout the film. Fate, loyalty, class struggle, the parallels between Opera and Life, and other ideas leave the viewer dazed in deep thoughts for hours after the film.
Because of the heavy references to modern Chinese events, some viewers may be confused by this film. While modern Chinese history is not a pre-requisite, I believe knowing the basics would definitely enhance the experience of this film. But nonetheless, this is quite possibly one of the best Chinese films... ever. Take it from me: Rent this one NOW!
Trivia Note: The "struggle scene" (where the Red Guards dragged out Douzi and Shitou in front of the mob for confession) was based upon the real-life experience of Director Chen Kaige. Chen suffered the same fate when he was purged during the Cultural Revolution. In fact, he denounced his own father, an act which he later regretted.
When Roger Ebert reviewed this movie a while back, he said one of the
movie's weak points was its lack of great tunes... he couldn't be further
from the truth.
My favorite aspect of the movie was the music.
10/10 Just for the tunes!