让子弹飞 | Let the Bullets Fly

Let the Bullets Fly

Set during the Age of the Warlords in the 1920s, this comic western is the highest grossing Chinese film ever. When circumstances force an outlaw to impersonate a county governor and clean up a corrupt town, the Robin Hood figure finds himself in a showdown with the local “godfather”. Full of surprises and grounded with a smart, humorous script, Let the Bullets Fly’s battles are fought with guns and wit.a

Directed by Wen Jiang | Starring : Wen Jiang, Yun-Fat Chow, You Ge, Bing Shao, Fan Liao | Presented at Tribeca Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, London Film Festival

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太阳照常升起 | The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Wen Jiang’s personality takes center stage in The Sun Also Rises, his first effort since the 2000 Devils on the Doorstep, a film that has yet to be released in China. While The Sun Also Rises captivates with its sumptuous colors, magical realism, high energy, and outstanding performances, its elliptical plot and lack of coherent narrative suggests that Jiang may have purposely clouded the film’s meaning in symbols and code to escape the Chinese censors. Loosely based on author Ye Mi’s novel Velvet, the film is set in China during the Cultural Revolution. There are four stories and six characters in the film, but they have a tenuous connection to each other. Three episodes are set in the 1970s and one twenty years earlier, but Jiang provides no intertitles or other indicators to help the viewer recognize changes in theme, time, or place. As the film opens with a tableau of gorgeous colors and people running, a young woman identified as the mother of a teenage boy buys a pair of embroidered shoes. The colorful shoes are promptly stolen by a mysterious bird, which repeats the mantra “I know, I know, I know,” and the woman falls into what seems to be madness—climbing trees, collecting rocks, digging a pit in the middle of the forest, and screaming the name of Alyosha (which we eventually learn was the name of the boy’s father). Meanwhile her dutiful son tries to protect her, at the cost of having to constantly leave his job. The segment is playful, magical, and poetic in its songs and poetry, and it suggests that insanity reigned supreme during the Cultural Revolution.

Directed by Wen Jiang | Starring : Wen Jiang, Joan Chen, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Jaycee Chan, Wei Kong | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival

天地英雄 | Warriors of Heaven and Earth

Warriors of Heaven and Earth

North of the vast 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese empire, the commercially and culturally priceless silk route is controlled by 36 friendly Buddhist kingdoms. Their are threatened by Turkic nomad tribes, the caravans also by brigand bands. Japanese scholar Lai Qimay not return home until the emperor is satisfied with his missions to retrieve refugees from the barren border lands. The last is competent imperial lieutenant Li, who was proscribed for refusing to execute Turkic prisoners. He now lives among fellow warriors for hire as caravan escorts. Lai Qi and Li reach a gentleman’s agreement to postpone their lethal duel till after the safe arrival of a caravan including a young Buddhist monk and his mysterious freight. When Turkic warlord Khan’s daughter’s hand seals an alliance with brigand sword master An, the only way out is trough the grimly dry Gobi desert.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Wen Jiang, Kiichi Nakai, Xueqi Wang, Wei Zhao, Bagen Hasi | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival

似水流年 | Homecoming

Homecoming

In Yim Ho’s Homecoming, a beautiful, modern woman makes a long visit to the small Chinese village in which she was raised. The air of the film is anything but nostalgic, since its stunning heroine, Shan Shan, has a ruefulness bordering on despondency. Her life in Hong Kong is successful by many standards, and she has the poise, the wardrobe and the bad habits to prove it. The visit home forces her to contrast all this with the simple family life enjoyed by two of her childhood friends.

Directed by Ho Yim | Starring : Josephine Koo, Gaowa Siqin, Weixiang Xie, Yun Zhou | Presented at Berlin Film Festival