Fifth Generation Chinese Cinema

Changwei Gu – Longtou (2012)

Gu Changwei’s Longtou—shot documentary style—features a series of characters who dwell on the realities of expectation, punctuated by a series of memorable shots (a cat stalking and jumping onto an air conditioner unit; an elderly man dragging a series plastic bottles; a weight-lifter practicing his moves and a child blowing bubbles) and nice use of music. Read More »

Ziniu Wu – Huo hu AKA Sparkling Fox (1994)

In this metaphysical adventure two very different men come to the same mountain to hunt a special fox and end up hunting each other. Read More »

Yimou Zhang – Wo de fu qin mu qin AKA The Road Home (1999)

Plot: Prompted by the death of his father and the grief of his mother, a man recalls the story of how they met in flashback. Read More »

Ziniu Wu – Wan zhong AKA Evening Bell (1989)

Five Eighth-Route army soldiers induce a isolated Japanese squad to capitulate.

Set on the end of WWII, Evening Bell follows a battle-hardened band of five Chinese soldiers struggling across a remote landscape wracked by post-armistice horrors. Stumbling from one grim aftermath to the next, they bury piles of the dead, help terrified peasants disarm landmines and save a Japanese officer from dying of exposure. When the officer leads them to a detachment of thirty-three starving Japanese soldiers, the film becomes a tension-filled standoff. In his films Wu Ziniu attempts to lead audiences below the surface of war to focus on human relationships instead of ideology. Needless to day, his approach to this genre has brought him criticism within China. (His third feature Dove Tree, about the Chinese-Vietnamese Border war, is still banned for its sympathetic treatment of the enemy.) Read More »

Yimou Zhang – San qiang pai an jing qi AKA A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (2009)

Wang runs a little noodle shop in a small desert town near Jiayu Pass not far from the Great Wall. He lives in his shop with his wife and their staff. But life with Wang is far from pleasant: he’s a real skinflint who only thinks about himself, and he sometimes doesn’t pay his staff for months on end. His wife also suffers at the hands of this domestic tyrant, although a discrete affair with Li, the shy cook, helps her to bear her lot in life. Every time she needs some more rouge, Li drives his boss lady into town where they have sex. But their regular little tryst doesn’t go unnoticed. Shortly beforehand, Li’s lover purchases a gun from a Persian carpet salesman and gives it to the cook for safekeeping. Wang, she says, must die – it’s the only way they can be happy. In the meantime, a waiter named Zhao and a policeman named Zhang inform Wang about his wife’s love affair and the gun that Li keeps hidden. Read More »

Zhuangzhuang Tian – Te bie shou shu shi AKA Unforgettable Life (1988)

Lu Yun, an anchor of a television program, becomes pregnant before marriage but decides to have an induced abortion. After this induced abortion experience, she realizes the social problem of pregnancy before marriage and makes up her mind to carry out a special topic report in the hospital. In this movie, Chinese female’s attitude towards sex and the state of the sex education, sexual harassment in the office, incest happening between fathers and daughters, ultra-marriage love affairs, especially the harm done to the female who is pregnant before marriage are directly revealed. Read More »

Yimou Zhang – Shan zha shu zhi lian aka Under the Hawthorn Tree (2010)

Romance sparks between a young woman and a young man from different economic backgrounds during China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.
Zhang Yimou’s highly anticipated film, which is adapted from a popular novel of the same name from Ai Mi, harkens back to the innocence of the 1970’s in presenting this pure and moving tear jerking love story, set in 1975 in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province. The story is of an unfulfilled romance between Jingqiu and a young man named Laosan during their “zhiqing” days towards the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Zhiqing refers to young urbanites who were sent to the countryside during that turbulent decade. Jingqiu, who had had a difficult life after her father was labeled a right-winger, met the handsome Laosan, who had a promising future because of his high-ranking military officer father. The couple fall in love, despite the gulf between their backgrounds. The only question remains is if their romance ever become fulfilled. Read More »