7.6/10
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Center Stage (1991)

Ruan Lingyu (original title)
Biopic of 1930's Chinese actress Ruan Ling Yu.

Director:

Stanley Kwan

Writers:

Peggy Chiao, Kang Chien Chiu (as Peggy Chiu)
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11 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Cheung ... Ruan Ling-yu / Herself
Han Chin ... Tang Chi-Shan / Himself
Tony Ka Fai Leung ... Tsai Chu-sheng / Himself
Carina Lau ... Lily Li / Herself
Waise Lee ... Li Min-wei
Li-li Li Li-li Li ... Herself (as Lily Li)
Lawrence Ng ... Chang Ta-Min / Himself
Cecilia Yip ... Lin Chu-Chu
Kelvin Wong Kelvin Wong ... Nier Erh
San Yip San Yip ... Ms Liu
Paul Chang Paul Chang ... Boss of Lianhua
Yanyan Chen Yanyan Chen ... Herself - Interview
Lingyu Ruan Lingyu Ruan ... Herself (archive footage)
Daisy Tian Dai Daisy Tian Dai ... Hsiao-Yu (3 years)
Ta-Nan Huang Ta-Nan Huang
Edit

Storyline

Biopic of 1930's Chinese actress Ruan Ling Yu.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Language:

Cantonese | Mandarin | English

Release Date:

20 February 1992 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Center Stage See more »

Filming Locations:

China

Company Credits

Production Co:

Golden Way Films Ltd. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(director's cut) | (edited) | (restored DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Connections

References Xiao Wanyi (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Buried My Heart
Music by Johnny Chen
Lyrics by Daryl Yao
Performed by Tracy Huang
See more »

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User Reviews

 
beautiful picture of 1930's Chinese movie industry
16 April 2005 | by chadstepSee all my reviews

I'm a novice at Chinese history, especially in the area of periods of film, and, being American, I'm particularly fascinated by it and comparing it to period pieces set in the 1930's US (a la "Cat's Meow" or "Miller's Crossing"). I was particularly taken with Centre Stage's attention to detail in period dress, music, and movie deal-making among the industry. As opposed to American movies focusing of stars/starlets' merciless climb to the top of the industry, Maggie Cheung plays Ruan as a kind, clever, and talented actress whose versatility and assertiveness helps her move beyond pigeonholing by the industry to play a wide range of parts--revolutionary, new woman, peasant-girl.

One part it seems which has been overlooked in the few reviews I've read is how this image of feminism illustrates China's version of liberation. Cheung plays Ruan as both a feminist in charge of her career, as well as a woman who is in control of her scandalous affair with Lawrence Ng's character. The difference between her and him being that men are understood to have concubines and are forgiven for the indecency, while Maggie's career is ruined (though she never apologizes for it in any way). Traditional roles still trump profession in 1930's China, but the sadness of it all being retold shows a strong Ruan overcoming every possible trap--losing a career over an affair, especially--and maintaining her desires for success.

For Cheung's performance, it never wavered. I was a big fan of hers in "Irma Vep" and she was just a strong in this role playing Ruan. Effortless shifts between emotion ("So, you're showing me your true face," her lover says as she blows smoke in his face obstinately, then switches to a kindly-wife smile--is she practicing her role in the movie, or is that really her?), graceful poise courtesy of the era before slouching was cool, private display of emotion, and elegant role-play as mistress and ex-wife with Tony Leung.

I'd have to know more about the history of Ruan to know if this is an accurate portrayal of her life, but the film-making style of inter-cutting Cheung playing her in the 30's while interviews with Ruan's colleagues from that time as they are interviewed by the director of the movie is a fascinating way to present her history. Is it a bio-pic? Is it a historical fiction? Is it a retrospective? It's all and more.


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