A vaguely-defined Asian terrorist organization highjacks a Taiwan airliner and lands it on the Chinese mainland. As the plane sits on the ground and the hijackers make their demands, the Beijing and Taibei governments must work together to rescue the hostages.
Every great director comes up with a clunker now and then, and this is Zhang's. This is a routine action thriller with lots of Western-style violence and gore, and probably the only reason Zhang made it was to deliver its political message of the desirability of mainland-Taiwan cooperation and eventual reunification. The only justification I can see for this film was to appease the Chinese government, which was even then looking over his shoulder. In any event, this is certainly the most forgettable film Zhang every made and while it earned a Best Supporting Actress award in China for Li Gong, it has little else to recommend it.
Operation: Cougar, or Daihao Meizhoubao in its original Mandarin, had one redeeming feature: a more hopeful future between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. It's written in the script, but other than that positive note, the movie fails on most counts.
After a botched hijacking attempt, a plane is forced to land in the middle of the Red Chinese countryside. Chinese special forces, coupled with a Taiwanese expert, cooperate to rescue the hostages.
However, the film smacks of cheapnessthe editing is some of the worst I have seen, high-level meetings in Taipei and Beijing are shown with series of still photos, while the script has very obvious plot holes. One, in the middle of the film, involves one of the hijackers' collaborators, stationed outside the plane and keeping tabs on the Red Army. Since no one knew where the plane would land, how could the collaborator be conveniently based there? The stand-off is implausible for the most part, with numerous attempts at rescues failing. But they are almost designed to fail from the start: one soldier going it alone atop the plane's fuselage without a real plan; or, when special forces advance, none of them return fire when fired upon by two hijackers.
But at least the movie does not attempt to glorify the mainland, so it could not be seen as veiled propaganda. Both Beijing and Taipei have parts to play in securing the hostages' release.
Gong Li has a role as a stewardess, and director Yimou Zhang has since gone on to make motion pictures that have been exported to the west. Cougar perhaps can be seen as both parties' genesis, and has curiosity value for their fans, but little more.
Honestly the film it self was not as bad as 1/10, if not for the brain-washing CCP propaganda, I'd probably given it a 2/10 -- 1 point more for the fair performances of Gong Li, Yu Rongguang, Wang Xueqi and Liu Xiaoning.
Ge You's character and performance were both awfully inconvincible, he was a joke in this film (even more hilarious than the product placement marketing of Yun Yan brand Chinese cigarettes). Ge You was born to be a comedian, thus any attempt in other genres would ultimately lost in vain.
It took me a while to believe that this was yet another Zhang Yimou/Gu Changwei film. The direction and cinematography were both disasters. It was funny how it even took the director Zhang Yimou himself a long time to take credit for this possibly one-of-his-worst film.
So the question is why? Why would they make such a piece of crap and publish it? The answer is simple yet sophisticated in its own way - politics.
First of all, The relation between mainland China and Taiwan is never friendly. And second, notice the time when this film was released - 1989, however strangely I couldn't find out the exact date when it's released; hence I guess it was right after or even during the infamous Tian'anmen massacre. The massacre was covered and defined by CCP as "a violent riot of a small group of people manipulated and oriented by foreign anti-China forces".
The CCP have always controlled the media and I guess it's probably why the exact release date is censored, only not to let me or any other people who are interested in this political swindle relates this film to the massacre. The terrorists factor in this film was obviously a metaphor of the so-called "anti-China forces".
CCP released this film only to show her people (as well as the Taiwanese) that the party is powerful enough to reign her regime, and that's disgusting to me since it's nothing but mental masturbation -- no different than a Nazi propaganda film -- or even worse, for Nazi propaganda films were never ridiculously affected with metaphors; the III Reich film makers under Goebbels' lead were at least masturbating with honesty and decency.
This film deserves a perfect ten in giving a realistic depiction of rescue actions after the disaster happens, however, there is nothing about the most important factor: disaster prevention. After all, one ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. It was not the fault of the film, because Chinese law enforcement lacks the adequate prevention measures at the time, but this film does point out this fault and rises the question.