There goes by a young couple walking hand in hand. As they stroll through the park they carry on a conversation that causes them to chuckle, sigh, exclaim and smile from time to time. Periodically one rests their head on the shoulder of the other and when the pathway narrows they wrap their arms around each other to get closer. In a completely different locale there is a couple sitting in an airport gate’s waiting area. While one leans into the other as they begin to doze off, the other is reading a book. When finally coming back to consciousness, the other brushes the hair off their sleepy face, looking into their sputtering eyes. With the book closed and placed to the side the two simply lean into each other, one affectionately massaging the neck of the other one. Anywhere you look you can always find people in love. A candlelight dinner, shopping at the grocery store or sitting together at a sporting event; they do not need to declare their love to the world, the way they interact with each other is proof enough. But I ask you, how often do you see couples in their twilight years out and about participating in public displays of affection? How about in the media or forms of entertainment like movies and television? I can only bring to mind a few from recent movies compared to the amount of films I have seen about youthful love. And the reason why I believe that is the case is because growing old isn’t for the weak. Let us face it when one hears the words, “in sickness and health,” how often do they imagine what their life might be like in their later years? AFTER spending years in a labor camp during the cultural revolution in China Lu Yanshi, played by Chen Daoming (Hero, Aftershock), was finally released to return to his waiting wife Feng Wanyu, played by Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern, Memoirs of a Geisha). But after so many years Feng did not recognize the man who showed up at her door. This film festival winning drama’s story was beautiful in its simplicity. With newcomer Zhang Huiwen as the couple’s daughter Dan Dan, the acting was painfully real. It was wonderful watching Gong Li as she would turn an emotion upside down with a look or subtle movement. On one level the story focused on the effects the cultural revolution had families. The stronger part of the story in my opinion had to do with the strength love had between two people. I did find a few places where the movie dragged for me, in a repetitive type of way. However, the way the story unfolded as it progressed kept me engaged. After the movie was over I walked away with the feeling I had just witnessed a full and unconditional love. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/4 stars
The incredible Great Wall of China, the buried Terra Cotta Army near Mount Li, the massive national road system of China all have something in common. They came out of the monarchy of Qin Shi Huang (Ying Zheng), who became the first emperor of a unified China. This dramatic movie was massive on several levels. The historical factor was fascinating to me and the drama in the king’s life played out like a Shakespeare tragedy. He was the man who conquered the several kingdoms of China to create one unified country, going from a king to an emperor. The underlying story in this overwhelming production was about a plan the king formed with his concubine, where he would send her to hire an assassin to kill him. The goal was to use the attempted assassination as a catalyst to attack one of the kingdoms. While the concubine Lady Zhao, played by the incredible Li Gong as Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern, Memoirs of a Geisha) was away, she discovered the king’s compassion was a facade. Playing the king was Xuejian Li (The Blue Kite, Happy Times), who brought a dramatic flair to his role. There were many aspects to this period film that were enormous. From the sets to the amount of extras, the film portrayed what I imagined the royal court must have been like back in those days. My attention was completely captured by this film with its huge battles, royal secrets, political backstabbing and historical significance. There were some scenes with blood. Chinese with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars — DVD