As I really like movies and also use them as learning material when learning a language, I will try to post short reviews of the films I have watched. I will focus mostly on recent movies but vintage one can also be expected.
One of the most talked about movies of 2010, staring Chow Yun-Fat, Let the bullets fly is one of the money-heavy movies China is making these days to increase its soft power.
Synopsis (from IMDB):
Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time imposter. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues.
I first chose to watch this movie because it was shot into and around Taishan and thought it would be a good way to have a look at it. It seems that all that’s worth the look, according to the movie, are the watchtowers (which are real, opposed to the gate fortifications seen at the beginning that were built in concrete for the movie) and the European street with its brightly painted facades. The other parts of the city (and its one million inhabitants) or the surrounding countryside were not relevant to the 1920’s background, I suppose.
The movie in itself is quite pleasant to watch. It is mostly a western “with Chinese characteristics”, a kind of mix between the classic “A fistful of dollars” for the background story and the korean made “The Good, The Bad and the Weird” for the dash of humor and non-sense. This is clearly not a great movie but it is effective and I spent a good time.
On the weak sides, I would say there is no clear bad guys, which is a must in Western Movies. Master Huang is not really the bad guy, he just happens to be on the wrong side of the story’s point of view. Possibly because it is played by Chow Yun-Fat… And, as often, the movie isn’t set nowadays. Clearly, showing corrupted officials being replaced by thieves willing to make profits on the local population in today’s China is not a good idea. Better set the scene in 1920 nationalist China.
Final review: Worth watching, if you don’t expect too much.
End note: If you want some behind the scenes footage of Taishan, CNTV made a serie of reportages on the watch towers some times ago