167 user 139 critic

The Flowers of War (2011)

Jin ling shi san chai (original title)
2:32 | Trailer
An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.


Yimou Zhang


Heng Liu (screenplay), Geling Yan (novel)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 14 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Bale ... John Miller
Ni Ni ... Yu Mo
Xinyi Zhang ... Shu (as Zhang Xinyi)
Tianyuan Huang Tianyuan Huang ... George Chen (as Huang Tianyuan)
Xiting Han Xiting Han ... Yi (as Han Xiting)
Doudou Zhang ... Ling (as Zhang Doudou)
Dawei Tong ... Major Li
Atsuro Watabe ... Colonel Hasegawa
Kefan Cao Kefan Cao ... Mr. Meng (as Cao Kefan)
Yangchunzi Yuan Yangchunzi Yuan ... Mosquito (as Yuan Yangchunzi)
Jia Sun Jia Sun ... Hua (as Sun Jia)
Yuemin Li Yuemin Li ... Dou (as Li Yuemin)
Bai Xue Bai Xue ... Lan
Takashi Yamanaka ... Lieutenant Asakura
Shigeo Kobayashi Shigeo Kobayashi ... Lieutenant Kato


In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor. Written by msmith5484

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, disturbing images, and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This film is banned in Japan. See more »


Yu Mo: Maybe with your help, I can save them.
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Comfort And Hope I (Tragedy In The Church, Alternative Version 2)
Soprano vocals by Chen XiaoDuo (aka Xiaoduo Chen)
Performed by Jiemin Yan (cello), with Allmänna Sången. Choir Conducted by Maria Goundorina
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User Reviews

best Zhang Yimou film in the past several years
18 December 2011 | by shang_libinSee all my reviews

Watched "The flowers of war" on Dec 19, 2011, the 2nd day this film was released in mainland China. The movie theater is fully packed. This is the best film directed by Zhang Yimou after "Hero" in 2002. This is not a surprise because in my opinion all his films after "Hero" have very awful/terrible screen scripts, while this one is based on a well composed novel. The story is about how a dozen of prostitutes saved girl students from uncivilized Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing(Nanking) massacre period (starting from Dec. 13, 1937, lasted for two weeks, 300,000 murdered, 80,000 raped). To Chinese, this is the saddest and most humiliated moment in the 20th century. The script is not based on true stories, painfully the true stories are much worse, because there wasn't a savior, there's only constant desperation. The characters themselves are well described. The logic flow and mentality transition in this film are not delineated very well. I still gave it 8 out 10 because I think it's due to the limitation of the film's length. As always, Mr. Bale is good at acting in this film, but definitely not his best character such as those in "American Psycho" or "The Prestige". The two leading actresses are both new face. They'll become very famous in China after this film, but I don't think their performances are as impressive as Gong Li, who collaborated with Zhang Yimou in many of his early works. Last but not the least, there is a 1-minute romance scene which I think is the worst part in this film, because under such a tragic circumstance it's very unnatural to practice love, and it dampens the character build-up in many ways.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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China | Hong Kong

Release Date:

16 December 2011 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

13 Flowers of Nanjing See more »


Box Office


$94,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$48,448, 22 January 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Dolby (Dolby Surround 7.1)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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