Reviewed by: dandan
Summary: blood wine...
the narrator tells of his grandmother, jiu er (gong li), and how her parents arranged for her to be married to an old man, a leper who owns a winery. without meeting his new wife, the old man dies; she takes over the winery, striking up a relationship with the narrator's grandfather, yu (jiang wen). they produce a very popular wine, but their peace is to be shattered by the arrival of the japanese army.
zhang yimou's first film as director, gong li's acting debut, only jiang wen's second film and gu chang-wei's debut as cinematographer. looking back, that's a pretty impressive line-up; zhang has gone on to be hailed as one of the leaders of the fifth generation chinese directors, if gu can follow up his debut film, 'peacock', with more of the same, then he'll be part of the sixth. jiang has proved himself as both actor and director, whilst li has risen to international stardom.
watching 'red sorghum', it's no suprise that those involved have done so well. in a relatively short film, zhang manages to craft a collection of characters with a depth that often runs deeper than their screen time should allow. this depth makes the change of tone, in the film's final third, all the more effective. gu's cinematography is quite stunning; will someone please give this film a decent dvd release!!! meanwhile, gong li is just great as jiu er; she is natural, charming and engaging, whenever she's on screen. jiang wen looks just as accomplished as he is now. a special mention goes to teng ru-jun, uncle luo-han, who is just great and i also loved in 'postmen in the mountains'.
all in all, a very good debut, on every front...
Reviewed by: MrBooth
Gong Li is a peasant girl who's married off to a leper and inherits his winery after he dies, striking up a romance with brutish worker Jiang Wen before even this. It's told from the perspective of the narrator, their grandson. The film undergoes a fairly radical shift of direction in the last act, when the film skips forward to the Japanese invasion. The ending is rather enigmatic.
Reviewer Score: 6
After looking forward for so many years to see Zhang Yimou's directorial debut, it's quite difficult to admit that it's... kind of boring! The narrative is intriguingly fractured, but I didn't feel any great interest in the characters or their tale.
The cinematography is quite luscious of course, though not as outrageously beautiful as some of Yimou's other work. Gong Li doesn't reveal the full depths of her talent as an actress here, but Jiang Wen makes a strong impression.
The film is worth a watch, but definitely one of the better results of the Zhang Yimou/Gong Li pairing.