Reviewed by: dandan
Summary: happy new year brother and sister....
mid-winter, the north of china: a small rural village, during the japanese occupation. ma dasan (jaing wen) is getting intimate with his ladyfriend, yu'er (jiang yihong), when there's a knock at the door. the couple panic, yu'er hides and dasan opens the door; as he does, a gun is thrust into his face and he's told to close his eyes.
the man holding the gun drags two sacks into dasan's house, proclaims that he'll be back for them in a few days and leaves. dasan opens the sacks to find two men, bound and gagged. he runs to the door, only to be stopped by another gun, popping it's bayonet though the paper screen door. he's ordered to interrogate the men and make sure no harm comes to them in the meantime.
and so, our story begins; dasan enlists the help of other villagers and discovers that one of the men is a loud, brash japanese solider and the other is a quier, restrained, chinese man, who's been made a translator for the japanese army. dasan et al begin to take care of the pair; fearing that their unknown captors will return. they don't. months begin to pass...
jaing wen, is already one of my favourite chinese (mainland) actors; now, he's one of my favourite directors too. this is simply a stunning film, mixing comedy and tension with ease. the small group of characters are all developed well and add a rich depth to the film, whilst the black and white cinematography is perfect for the film.
the film deals with the japanese occupation, war and it's effect on people; you don't need to know the history of the japanese occupation of china to enjoy the film, but it may help provide a little more context. all i'll say, is that you shouldn't read the interview with jiang wen or watch the introduction by stephen soderberg (a bit of a dick), before you watch the film.