Chuan Lu – City of Life and Death AKA Nanking Nanking (2009)

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The third film from award-winning Fifth Generation director Lu Chuan (Kekexili: Mountain Patrol), City of Life and Death (Nanking Nanking) is a devastating account of the massacre that occurred during WWII when Japanese troops took the city of Nanjing in December 1937, a tragedy remembered as the Rape of Nanking. Shot completely in black and white, this powerful war drama unflinchingly captures the shocking violence and brutality of the Nanjing massacre, from the mass executions of POWs to the raping and slaughtering of civilians, while providing a deeply human portrait of both the victims and the perpetrators. Continue reading

Fengliang Yang & Yimou Zhang – Ju Dou (1990)

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Synopsis:
A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband’s nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband’s heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. Filmed in glowing technicolour, this tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting. Continue reading

Zhao Liang – Bei xi mo shou AKA Behemoth (2015)

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Quote:
Under the sun, the heavenly beauty of grasslands will soon be covered by the raging dust of mines. Facing the ashes and noises caused by heavy mining , the herdsmen have no choice but to leave as the meadow areas dwindle. In the moonlight, iron mines are brightly lit throughout the night. Workers who operate the drilling machines must stay awake. The fight is tortuous, against the machine and against themselves. Meanwhile, coal miners are busy filling trucks with coals. Wearing a coal-dust mask, they become ghostlike creatures. An endless line of trucks will transport all the coals and iron ores to the iron works. There traps another crowd of souls, being baked in hell. In the hospital, time hangs heavy on miners’ hands. After decades of breathing coal dust, death is just around the corner. They are living the reality of purgatory, but there will be no paradise. Continue reading

Yimou Zhang – Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao AKA Shanghai Triad (1995)

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Summary:
“Country boy Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao) is brought to 1930s Shanghai by his uncle who wants the boy to become a member of the powerful gang ruled by manipulative Tang (Li Baotian). In fact, Shuisheng will serve Tang’s capricious mistress Bijou (Gong Li), a nightclub singer whom the boss proclaimed “the Queen of Shanghai.” When the boy’s uncle and the gang’s several other members die during a rival gang’s unsuccessful attempt on Tang’s life, the latter retreats to a remote small island, taking both Bijou and Shuisheng with him and thinking of revenge. The film’s English-language title is a little bit deceiving (the original Chinese title translates to “Row, Row, Row to Grandmother’s Bridge,” a line in Tang’s favorite song performed by Bijou), as this drama centers more on the boy’s coming of age and Bijou’s disillusionment than on Shanghai gang wars. The film is slow-paced and sometimes lacks a narrative drive, but Zhang Yimou’s images are striking as ever and Gong Li’s beauty shines throughout.” -AMG Continue reading

Bing Wang – Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks – Part 1: Rust (2003)

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From All Movie Guide
Filmmaker Wang Bing spent three years charting the decline and decay of one of China’s major industrial regions in his over nine-hour, three-part documentary Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks. From 1999 to 2001, Wang traveled via freight train through the northeast district of Tie Xi. Beginning with the four-hour first section entitled Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part One: Rust, the director visits three important factories in Tie Xi that are all on the verge of closure — a development sure to accelerate the region’s economic downturn. In the nearly three-hour second section, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part Two: Remnants, Wang visits a rundown governmental housing community that is also on the slate for demolition, leaving the inhabitants without shelter as well as unemployed. Completing his series is the final section, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part Three: Rails, that follows some of the people that make their earnings by bumming around and on the rail lines. With the downturn of the economy, which in turn decreases the rail traffic, these scavengers are also falling into desperate times that force difficult choices to be made. The entirety of Tie Xi Que was screened at the 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. During its festival run, this film played in an English-subtitled version. Continue reading