Archive for the Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚 Category

“Back to 1942” / 《一九四二》- Review of Feng Xiaogang’s 2012 release [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in China, Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Sweet & Sour Cinema on November 19, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

12 November 2012

by Derek Elley

Rated 8 out of 10

“Ironic, big-budget drama about a real-life famine in WW2 China defies expectations.”

Box-office magician FENG Xiaogang 馮小剛 has not always fared well artistically (The Banquet 夜宴 (2006), parts of Assembly 集結號 (2007)) when straying from his forte of ironic comedy. But in Back to 1942 一九四二, a megabudget ($35 million) portrayal of the famine in Henan province that claimed 3 million lives in the middle of the Sino-Japanese War, he gets the balance between spectacle, history, human characters and his trademark black humour just about right. Where his previous blockbuster, earthquake drama Aftershock 唐山大地震 (2010), was a very serious affair that tugged directly at the heartstrings, 1942, though dealing with a far bigger tragedy, takes an ironic approach that is more consistent with his overall body of work and makes the movie much more than just a war drama based on real events…

…The inspiration came from [scriptwriter LIU Zhenyun 劉震雲]’s 50-page essay-cum-memoir Remembering 1942 (温故一九四二), in which the Henan native tried to excavate his own family history and capture memories; written with Liu’s trademark irony (very similar to Feng’s), the essay was long thought unadaptable into a movie, having no plot or conventional characters or narrative. After two previous attempts, Feng and Liu finally succeeded, inventing a whole story from scraps in the essay which ambitiously attempts to combine the refugees’ exodus along with political events of the time — and even work into the mix real-life Time war correspondent Theodore H. White who first broke the story in the West.

White’s presence is justified by the major role he played in embarrassing Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT government to acknowledge the problem (though not enough to really solve it). US actor Adrien BRODY gives a reasonable facsimile of the passionate, 27-year-old journalist, without getting much of a chance to develop a real performance. Much more problematic is the presence of another US “name” to boost the film’s international profile: Tim ROBBINS’ extended cameo as a Catholic priest is both redundant to the plot and a distraction from the drama, and not helped by the actor’s wobbly (Oirish?) accent. In fact, the script’s incorporation of western religion into the story — largely to show how useless it was — makes similar scenes in The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵 look almost good: in particular, actor ZHANG Hanyu 張涵予’s Chinese priest, inveighing against godlessness and then being stunned by the horrors of war, is marginally risible and a pointless diversion.

Aside from White’s character, the story of 1942 is a Chinese one, and Feng has assembled a first-rate cast heavy with regulars…

…Given the large number of characters and the concomitant need to perpetually cross-cut between the refugee exodus in Henan and the corridors of power in Chongqing, 1942 doesn’t often build a real head of dramatic steam…

…1942 is not the last word in period blockbusters or movies about Chinese tragedies or human fortitude: it doesn’t pretend to be and, with its opening and closing narration (drawn directly from Liu’s original essay), makes clear its very specific goal. But for such a grim subject it’s not a hard sit or a downbeat one, or one that wallows in misery. It’s sharp, witty, moving and with memorable moments — and a real movie with people rather than an arid pamphlet on history.

Full review link:



Theme Song Pays Tribute to CPPCC []

Posted in CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚 on March 4, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2011-03-03       Web Editor: Tian Tian

A special music video of the theme song for the impending Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) entitled "We" (Wo Men) was released Wednesday, March 2, website reports.

…the song has brought together 20 heavyweights from China’s music, film, event host and sports fields who will attend the 4th Session of the 11th National Committee of CPPCC. Among them are Han Hong, Feng Xiaogang, Yang Lan and Deng Yaping.

The star-studded music video chronicles the CPPCC’s development in the last 60 years. Feng Xiaogang is the art director, while Zhang Heping, director of Beijing People’s Art Theater, wrote the song lyrics.

The opening ceremony of the CPPCC meetings will begin on March 3.

Article link with video here

Jet Li to Show Tai-Chi, but Not with Feng Xiaogang [People’s Daily / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Jet Li 李连杰, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平 on February 23, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

February 23, 2011


A scene in the 1993 film "Tai-Chi Master" ("Taiji Zhang Sanfeng") starring Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. [File Photo:]

Jet Li has been confirmed to focus his new movie on the Chinese martial arts of Tai-Chi, but Feng Xiaogang won’t be the director.

Production company Huayi Brothers announced the film on Monday, February 21, 2011.  With the working title, "Tai-Chi", the film will star Jet Li as a legendary Tai-Chi master.

Li built one of his most successful roles with his portrayal of Tai-Chi master Zhang Sanfeng in Yuen Woo-Ping’s 1993 film "Tai-Chi Master" ("Taiji Zhang Sanfeng").  Huayi Brothers didn’t elaborate on Li’s new character, but said it won’t reprise Zhang Sanfeng.

Jet Li will be the executive producer of the film with Chen Kuo-Fu.

The kung-fu star has been dedicated to promoting Tai-Chi. He announced in August, 2010 that he was working to help Tai-Chi push-hands (a two-person training routine) become an official Olympic sport.

As for the director of "Tai-Chi", Huayi Brothers didn’t announce a specific candidate, but denied previous rumors that Feng Xiaogang would direct the film.

Feng, who made such bankable films as "Aftershock" and the "If You Are the One" series, is preparing for his own project that "will involve heavy investment," according to Huayi Brothers.

Previous reports suggest Feng’s upcoming film will be about the bombing of Chongqing, a five-year-long military operation conducted by the invading Japanese troops on China’s wartime capital during WWII.


Article link here

“Let the Bullets Fly” box office pierces 500 mln yuan [People’s Daily / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Sweet & Sour Cinema on January 9, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I don’t usually promote films’ box office news, but this particular article points out that this film has proved so popular that it has become a kind of cultural phenomenon.

Also see the article “Jiang Wen to ‘Let the Bullets Fly’ in Hollywood” [People’s Daily] — Link:

I’ve just seen the film and should eventually post a review. – Zuo Shou 左手


January 4, 2011

The Chinese blockbuster “Let the Bullets Fly” has earned more than 500 million yuan since it was released less than 2 weeks ago. That’s about $76 million US dollars.

The film’s producers are optimistic about the continuing growth in box office, and expecting a total of more than 600 million yuan.

Memorable quotes from the movie have already become popular among netizens, which are widely used to refer to domestic and international current affairs, such as “let the oil price soar”, and “let the bombs fly”.

Meanwhile, Feng Xiaogang’s “If you Are the One 2” also performed well in box office, topping 400 million yuan, or about $60 million US dollars, since its release on Christmas Eve.


Article link:

Feng Xiaogang’s New Film to Focus on Chongqing Bombing [ / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in China, Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Japan, Sweet & Sour Cinema, World War II on December 28, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 27, 2010

Many people are guessing what will be the director Feng Xiaogang’s next project following the successes of his two films, “Aftershock” (Yu Zhen) and “If You Are The One 2” (Fei Cheng Wu Rao 2). Wang Zhonglei, president of Huayi Brothers, confirmed that it will be a tragic war story about the bombing in Chongqing occurring 70 years ago.

During an interview, Wang said that currently they are working on the screenplay of the film which Feng will direct. The film will be one of the five films that Feng works on together with Huayi according to a contract they signed earlier this year.

“The focus won’t be on war scenes, but rather will be the story from ordinary people’s point of view, which is Feng’s unique way to narrate a story.”

The Bombing of Chongqing occurred from 1938 to 1943. The Japanese army dropped over 11,500 bombs on the Chinese city Chongqing. More than 10,000 Chinese civilians were killed during the bombing.

Article link:

Zhang brings Bale back to China for “Nanjing Heroes” (金陵十三釵) [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Zhang Yimou 张艺谋 on December 27, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

…Also see photo article “Film director Zhang Yimou promotes film ‘Thirteen Girls in Jinling City'” [Xinhua] –

December 22, 2010

by Stephen Cremin

~ Production News ~

Christian Bale is returning to China to star in Zhang Yimou’s (張藝謀) Nanjing Heroes (金陵十三釵), an adaptation of a novella by Yan Geling (嚴歌苓).

Bale will play the role of a priest whose church shelters prostitutes and female students during the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanjing. When the young students are forced to be sex workers for Japanese soldiers, the prostitutes volunteer to take their place.

Details of the film, including Bale’s casting, were announced at a press conference in Beijing today. The film’s RMB600 million ($90 million) budget has been fully financed in China through local investors. Shooting of the film will begin 10 Jan 2011 with about 40% of the script in English.

Yan has co-written the screenplay adaptation of her novella with another writer Liu Heng (劉恆). One of Liu’s own novellas formed the basis of Zhang Yimou’s (張藝謀) Ju Dou (菊豆, 1990). Liu also adapted the screenplay for another recent war epic, Feng Xiaogang’s (馮小剛) Assembly (集結號).

Bale shot portions of Steven Spielberg’s The Empire of the Sun, in Shanghai in March 1987 when he was 13-years-old.

Article link:

Film Review of “Aftershock” [ / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, Sweet & Sour Cinema on August 6, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手
Chinese people have turned pale at the very mention of the word earthquake and now it has been made into a film and screened in front of every Chinese.  Try to imagine how they would feel at being exposed to the catastrophe again?…
do not go into it expecting a catastrophe film, as its Chinese name implies – “Tangshan Da Di Zhen” (the massive earthquake that occurred in Tangshan)…
[Excerpted from the review]
July 29, 2010

The poster of the film "Aftershock" (Photo:


by  Zhang Lin

How would it feel if a person uncovered your scar and forced you to face painful memories you had recovered from decades ago?  Probably you would get really annoyed and resist thinking about the past. 

As a Chinese, perhaps one of the most sensitive words is earthquake.  From the 1976 Tangshan earthquake that killed more than 240,000 people to the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake that destroyed nearly 70,000 lives, Chinese people have turned pale at the very mention of the word earthquake. 

And now, that experience has been made into a film and screened in front of every Chinese.  Try to imagine how they would feel at being exposed to the catastrophe again? Repelled, angry or moved?  It’s hard to tell. 

As the most anticipated film of the year, “Aftershock” has garnered enormous attention from the media since it began filming.  Not only because of its famous director, Feng Xiaogang, who has successfully entertained Chinese audiences with several classic comedies before, but also for its status as the first Chinese IMAX film.  These two elements alone would draw a considerable number of viewers into the cinema.  Since its subject is the greatest disaster ever to occur in China, the film is expected to do well at the box office.  But you will not be satisfied if you go in expecting a catastrophe film involving large-scale special effects.  The earthquake occurs at night in the first five minutes of the film, when you can see the ground trembling and crashing, buildings collapsing and people being hit or smashed by the rocks.  The scene is so impressive that you can totally experience the thrill and fear of the massive earthquake.  It is certain to be the most lifelike special effect among films in recent years, apart from some small deficiencies. 

Then, at the break of dawn the next day, the city has been torn to pieces and numerous people have been buried in the debris.  Yuan Ni (Xu Fan), the main character of the film, makes a life-changing decision about which of her children to save when both are buried under a big rock and only one can be saved.  After a heart-breaking struggle, she chooses to save her son.  (I still cannot figure out why she selects her son instead of her daughter. Maybe because the Chinese traditional family valued boys more than girls at that time) From then on, the film turns into a family ethics drama, which unfolds over 32 years, describing the stubborn mother who lives alone, refusing to move into a new house or remarry.  The daughter is also stubborn and refuses to go back home to find her relatives.  Only after 32 years, after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the son, Fang Da, and daughter, Feng Deng, run into each other at the disaster area.  Then they go back to Tangshan and reunite with the family. 

Finally, there’s a happy ending.  Looking back, it is obvious that there are many scenes that will really move you to tears.  I heard many people around me blowing their noses and saw most of the audience was wiping tearful eyes after the film.  I’m not a cold-blood creature, and several times I had tears going welling up in my eyes but they didn’t fall down.  I began to wonder why they failed to run, and I realized that the film contains too many moving points, and none of them reach a certain level that would really bring the tears out… 

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