Flash Movie Review: City of Life and Death
Our usual ammunition was snowballs and squirt guns, with the occasional water balloon bombs. But when a friend came up with the brilliant idea to freeze the water balloons first, our parents put a stop to it when one friend on the enemy’s side got a black eye from one of our frozen balloons. In wintertime when a heavy wet snow would fall, my friends and I would be outside building forts, stockpiling them with snowballs. During summer we would choose different apartment buildings to be our designated headquarters as we would sneak through alleys and gangways for a surprise attack on our enemies. This was the extent of our war games; it was based on what we learned about warfare in school. From our textbooks and videos we saw war as a distant game filled with bombs and guns. There really was no personal connection for most of us. It was not until new neighbors moved into our apartment building, that I got a deeper understanding of how war affects all of us. One of the new neighbors had a series of numbers tattooed on her forearm. It was the first time I had seen such a thing so I asked her about it. She explained to me how she was a concentration camp survivor which led to multiple questions from me. From that point on, whenever the subject of war came up in class, I would always go and ask her opinion. I discovered there were and had been many horrors done throughout the world. AFTER defeating the Chinese troops in the city of Nanking during the year 1937, the Japanese troops settled into a six week reign of terror against the city’s residents. Though I was familiar with the history of this event, this film festival winning drama was utterly riveting. Filmed in black and white, the story unfolded with the assistance of seeing things through the eyes of three different individuals. There was Hideo Nakaizumi (Who’s Camus Anyway, Scout Man) as Kadokawa, Wei Fan (Back to 1942, Set Off) as Mr. Tang and Yuanyuan Gao (Beijing Bicycle, Caught in the Web) as Miss Jiang. I thought it was brilliant the way the director shot this historical war movie; there was a direct approach that needed no special effects or swooning melodrama. Honestly, this was one of the most realistic portrayals I have seen in a World War II film. It also had some hard scenes of brutality and horror, besides violence and blood. Speaking to a friend after seeing this picture, she asked me why I watch such movies. The reason is to remind me that war is not a kid’s game. Chinese, Japanese, German and English was spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars — DVD