Film Review: “Meet in Pyongyang” 平壤之約 | 평양에서의 약속 [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

China/North Korea
Contemporary drama
2012, colour, 2.35:1, 95 mins

Directed by Xierzhati Yahefu (西爾扎提・牙合甫), Kim Hyun Chol (김현철 | 金賢哲)

Rated 6 out of 10

Meet in Pyongyang

By Derek Elley

Fri, 13 July 2012


Glossy China-North Korea co-production is intriguing but short on human drama.

…The first China-North Korea co-production to be shown in both countries, Meet in Pyongyang 平壤之約 ‘ 평양에서의 약속 is a classily shot widescreen movie that’s let down by a lack of any real drama. Smoothly packaged by Uyghur co-director Xierzhati Yahefu 西爾扎提・牙合甫, who’s previously handled movies centred on his own ethnic group in Xinjiang (Olympic kid’s film Maimaiti’s 2008 買買提的2008 (2008) and romance Under the Sky of Urumqi 烏魯木齊的天空 (2010)), it avoids much of the archness of "friendship between countries" co-productions and benefits a lot from a fresh performance by 27-year-old actress Alice LIU 劉冬, who made her name as the versatile lead in Heaven Eternal, Earth Everlasting 80’后 (2009)

…a good chunk of the running time is devoted to scenes of rehearsals for the mass games, which are fascinating for anyone interested in the art and underpin the theme of dance as something not for one’s own ego but as a cog in a greater wheel ("100,000 people performing as one"). In fact, with each day captioned on screen, the film has a semi-documentary feel, with the personal stories of Xiaonan, Eun Sun and Xiaonan’s male guide there to provide a human hook…

…A nine-minute montage of the actual 2011 Arirang Mass Games — shot by GAO Qi 高琦 and GAO Kun 高錕 — forms a visually impressive climax…

…The first China-North Korea co-production was actually the clunky Oriental Gladiator 東方角鬥士 (2006), a drama directed by LI Qimin 李啓民 and RI Ju Ho 리주호 | 李洙浩 about the life of Korean-born wrestler Rikidozan 力道山 | 역도산. The finished production, however, was never approved for North Korean release.

[Excerpted by Zuo Shou]

Full article link here

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