Do you remember the film about the model worker Guo Mingyi (郭明义)? He got about 21 million followers on Chinese social media Weibo where he spreads love, empathy and communist rhetoric in a way that Lei Feng would have admired. You don’t remember that movie? It made a modest 20 million RMB on the box-office and didn’t receive any critical acclaim worth noting. Anyway, it seems that this weeks premiers has something similar to offer with the movie Dalas Youth. I can’t tell you much about it except for the plot outline because I haven’t been able to find a trailer for the movie.
Three movies about the vicissitudes of adolescent life also premiers this week. The movie Youth Blood (which has the latest day received the awful official English title Blood Time) is probably one of the worst movies of the year since it contains all the sentimental and mechanical narrative content of a Chinese high school film. The trailer looks like a crossover between a commercial and a session for extreme emotional expression. You have no clue what the film plot is but there’s a slow paced sleazy pop song playing in the background. Why the worst? I actually quite liked Vicki Zhaos movie So Young 《致我们终将逝去的青春》which could keep a good balance between the seriousness of coming-of-age drama and the intoxicating vigor of all that the youthful years have to offer. Enthusiastic Times seems only seems like a bad plagiarism of an already horrible movie, Tiny Times 《小时代》. I actually found the film on Youtube yesterday and it looks horrible. The plot outline on Mtime doesn’t seem to fit the story in the film but then again the first ten minutes of the film was very confusing and had a very illogical narrative.
Feng Xiaogangs movie Youth looks very promising both visually and content-wise. Feng Xiaogang has time after time shown his ability to successfully direct in a convincing way no matter what genre he’s dealing with. His film Assembly 《集结号》from 2007 also shows that he can visualize war in a most savage but intriguing way. Youth is written by author Yan Geling who has written several works before that concerns the history of modern China. Zhang Yimous film Coming Home is based on Yan Gelings book The Criminal Lu Yanshi and even though the film focuses more on the psychological trauma of losing a family member than on the brutal politics behind The Cultural Revolution there is still some hope that Feng Xiaogangs Youth will dig in to Chinas past (The Cultural Revolution and the Sino-Vietnam war) and visualize it with a critical lens. But, one shouldn’t get one hopes up too much since the film was made with a big budget and the people behind it probably want’s it to receive distribution permit. The good news at least is that the film so far is doing good on the box-office.
Another drama about young people in school is Love Pascal and the trailer for the film doesn’t look too bad and you do get a sense of what the film is about. I’m guessing the film will end in a tribute to filial piety and the value of preserving good family core values. Could be good though.
What about The Thousand Faces of Dunjia? Well since the internet community is filled with thousand of people that have a deeper understanding and love for Yuen Woo-ping and his movies I’ll leave that to them. See for instance Maggie Lees review which I linked to further down.
Original title: 《芳华》 (Fanghua)
English title: Youth
Director: Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚)
Starring: Huang Xuan (黄轩), Miao Miao (苗苗), Yang Caiyu (杨采钰), Zhong Elane (钟楚曦).
Plot: Based on Yan Gelings novel with the same name the story centers around the daughter of a rightist He Xiaoping (played by Miao Miao) and the model Lei Feng soldier, Liu Feng (played by Huang Xuan) both whom tries to adapt themselves in to the harsh environment of a fast changing China. The story follows them from the middle of The Cultural Revolution through the Sino-Vietnam war and then in to the China of the 90’s.
Original title: 《热血时代》 (Rexue shidai)
English title: Enthusiastic Times
Director: Hui Yu (回宇)
Starring: Huang Shijia (黄诗佳), Ma Yujiao (马宇娇).
Plot: A story about two students competing vision of how one should spend one’s time at the university. Should one give up one’s dreams and instead wholeheartedly dedicate oneself to preparing exams or should one continue to live for one’s dreams?
No trailer but follow this link and you can watch the movie.
Original title: 《爱的帕斯卡》 (Ai de pasika)
English title: Love Pascal
Director: Liu Hai (刘海)
Starring: Xu Huanshan (许还山), Xi Meijuan (奚美娟), Du Haitao (杜海涛), Zhou Zhi (周知).
Plot: Dai Jinglin is a professor at Xibei university and everything in his everyday life seems normal until his son Dai Xiu is sent away to work in Australia. Their relationship starts to deteriorate and one of hia students plagiarize his research in order to get a scholarship outside of China. As if this wasn’t enough his wife complains about him avoiding coming home and another of his student says he’s not patriotic enough and refuses to call him his teacher. When his son suddenly dies a secret about Dai Xiu is revealed and people around Dai Jinglin also starts noticing a more benevolent within him.
Original title: 《达拉的青春》 (Dala de qingchun)
English title: Dalas Youth
Director: Peng Yifan (彭一凡)
Starring: Yang Jin (杨晋), Wang Zuo (王佐).
Plot: The story of the film is based on the life of He Yongqun who received the silver medal in the third national contest of Create the Youth (创青春) within the area of agriculture.
Original title: 《奇门遁甲》(Qimen dunjia)
English title: The Thousand Faces of Dunjia
Director. Yuen Woo-ping
Starring: Da Peng (大鹏), Ni Ni (倪妮), Aarif Lee (李治延), Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨).
Plot: The Wuyin clan, a secret society whose seven members inherited the magical skills of “Qimen” embark on a journey, after defeating a demon fish in the ancient city of Kaifeng, trying to stop an evil force from destroying the world (for a more detailed plot outline I would suggest Maggie Lee’s review at Variety.).