Feature of October: Chinese Film Panorama 2003



On The Other Side Of The Bridge
Director: Hu Mei

The film begins in the 30s, a Chinese goes to train in the Austrian Police Academy and falls in love with an Austrian girl. She loves him so much that she subsequently breaks up with her family and comes to China to marry him. They live through the War of Resistance, the Civil and the Communist rule. A typical Chinese picture that has to serve a political purpose, that is the celebration of the friendship between the Chinese and Austrian people through this love story, it is blank in its execution and monotonous (their falling love in the beginning has no spark and the antagonism with the mother-in-law is hackneyed). More importantly, to avoid touching on any past political upheavals, the film has to concentrate on the so-called simple and great love among common people.

The most deceptive is the line spoken by the heroine at the end, "the turmoil was finally over, Yunlong and I again lived happily together. We had not separated for a day until 1980." Then it is cut to the magic hour scene, with the two talking under the twilight sun. It looks as if after the Cultural Revolution, they have enjoyed a blissful twilight years. But the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, just four years to 1980. Yunlong actually died shortly after the Cultural Revolution. If you know something about modern Chinese history, then you should know that people still lived under its shadow. Hua Guofeng didn't bow down until 1978. The Chinese people at that time were still a scared lot, far from being certain of a bright future. As political untouchables that bore the blunt in decades of political campaigns, it was hardly unlikely that the landlord class would so early believe that there would be only be good days ahead. I don't deny that the two would feel joyous in their reunion after so many hardships. But when the hero died in 1980, he could not have such a "belated blissful world" mindset. On the Other Side of the Bridge celebrates the timeless love between a couple of different races, but it is shallow and rough under the rendering of creators who have long used to see through the political set pattern.

Life Show
Director: Huo Jian-Qi

When the film is over, film critic Ho Man-lung speaks out what is in my mind: it is an imitation of Wong Kar-Wai. There are two very obvious scenes, one is Lai Shuangyang (Tao Hong)'s entrance with her back, which is not unlike Leslie Cheung's entrance in Days of Being Wild. This can still be said as the borrowing of an idea, however, kroad(Andy Lau and Maggie Cheung) when dating and their kiss all remind us of Wong Kar-wai. We can see that in this film, Huo is greatly influenced by Wong. The film is aesthetically shot, but the screenplay and the Chi Li novel it is based on is realistic in the rendering of the characters and plot, a far cry from the nostalgia and personal sentiments of Wong Kar-wai. The aesthetic shooting style that Huo employed, despite some touching moments, does not fit the story as a whole. The screenplay has done a good job of portraying a complicated woman, feminine yet not void of a calculating and bitchy side. Here is a woman adept at surviving, but she still has a soft spot. But she is too hysterical in the split-up scene with Boss Zhuo. It is much more understated in the novel. Tao Hong is a charming and good actress. But again, she exhibits more charm and allure that the character requires.

By Po Sharp

For Chinese version, please click here.

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