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Not an action movie by any means but an interesting drama concerning traditional values versus new free-market attitudes seen from the perspective of an older criminal element trying to deal with the new-money, corruption-based variety.
The movie does a nice job of showing community life in the laid back old hutongs that still exist in Beijing and while the plot is a little slow it develops well. Since this film was designed to appeal to a domestic audience a lot of the nuance will be lost on foreigners. It emphasizes relationships, loyalty and honor in contrast to the quest for individual wealth, power and exaggerated regard of face. It also reinforces the notion that you can trust the Party to do the right thing but not the police.
Some ask "what's happened to Chinese cinema?" I guess the answer is that it is booming and delivering a wide variety of product. If you want a big budget action film with lots of CG you'll find it in Mo Jin - The Lost Legend. I enjoyed Lao Pao Er more though.
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