Following the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Communist Party started to rule in the mainland and Kuomintang was forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan. The new power, along with other parties then came together to organize the very first Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and discussed to establish the People's Republic of China (PRC). The film features such revolutionary era which gives the birth of a new China.
And we thought we’d never get to see this brouhaha of a film which was made to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party founding of China. There have been so much media reports about the stars appearing in the production, we were wondering why it didn’t make it local cinemas. And finally it’s here, playing on our home entertainment system. The verdict? This isn’t a movie, it really isn’t. It’s a history lesson spiced up with big stars like Andy Lau, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen and Vicki Zhao front lining the DVD cover.
If you were a history buff, you wouldn’t be lost in the 135 minute picture. There is a certain Communist Party leader Mao Zedong played by Tang Guo Qiang, and a certain Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai Shek played by Zhang Guo Li. The two men meet to decide the fate of China, and how the revolutionary meetings form what China is today.
While that was a very brief plot summary of what this pompous production is about, it’s really all you need to know without getting too confused with the story development. It is important that viewers keep in mind that this was made with the key word “propaganda” in mind, and directors Han San Ping and Huang Jian Xing were probably under a lot of pressure to deliver a movie which glorifies the new China. While we will not bore you with details of how this history lesson can stretch into a two odd hour movie, let’s just say some learners will remember facts better by providing visuals.
For those who eventually lost their way in the rather confusing storyline (remember: this was made for the Mainland Chinese audience in mind, and that is also probably no distributor had the confidence to screen it theatrically in Singapore), you would have fun spotting stars who have supporting or cameo roles in this celebratory work. Other than the names mentioned above, also look out for Leon Lai, Liu Ye, Hu Jun, Ge You, Sun Hong Lei, Zhang Han Yu, Tony Leung Ka Fai and gasp, Ziyi Zhang (she who never forgot her home country is China), And if you have been following the media reports, you’d know that director John Woo had his scene deleted (you could hunt down the trailer to see him though).
Yes, we had about as much fun star spotting. Do we remember the story? Bit and pieces here and there – enough for us to spout some historical facts about China during those important functions.
There is nothing to complain about the movie’s visual transfer. it is presented in its original Mandarin language.
Review by John Li
Posted on 27 November 2009