Fresh off the heels of our Andy Lau feature comes a new film starring him a slew of other A-Listers that has been regarded as a gift to celebrate the 90 anniversary of China Communist Party. The only problem with this film is, by solely watching this film you will not know why the Communist Party was founded in China at that time. You see, the history has been cleverly compressed, and for those unacquainted with the complex ins-and-outs of the period, you will barely get the history lesson you probably thought you would have. By fragmentary story line, distorted historical facts, you can not learn what happened in China in early 1900s.
Much of the Beginning of the Great Revival seems to be an endless series of speeches–much loved by communist party leaders–some dramatic, some affected, mostly dull, interspersed with a few dramatic scenes of combat or mass demonstrations. Everyone knows the movie is a big ass-kissing for the Party. The director knew it, the actors/actresses knew it, the audience knew it, the hardcore angry communist party member knew it, and the most important dilemma is: the communist PARTY knew it. Why does the film selectively depict the May 4th movement with students just like Red Guard in Cultural Revolution – breaking into people home to catch and burning house. There are actually protest and strikes, and the protest started right from Tiananmen square. Why the most important scene is omitted? When not being frustrated by historical inaccuracies, I could help but to conclude that it is really just mundane, boring history stuff, and that’s because it’s what most of this film is.
The 10-minute sequence of the 4 May Movement protests is true big-screen cinema, and to make this film popular, the bureau of China film management requires every university, mid-school, preliminary school and even kindergarten (!) to view this film. This is just propaganda which I could understand this kind of depiction of people and governments back in the 40s but this is 2011 and it is unbelievable. The story lacks a climax and it looks to have ended without any major thing happening.
Wow, what a curveball this film was! I expected it to be amazing and it turned out to be one of the biggest duds I have seen this year. It could be made better by cutting off some of the less relevant scenes and making the main plot more concentrated on a few major characters. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve lost a bit of admiration for the actors in this movie because by appearing in this movie they are contributing to twisting the minds of young Chinese and increasing the friction between the west and east. Having said so, if you’re studying theatrical history and needs a contemporary example of a propaganda movie full of political BS from an oppressive regime, you can’t go wrong with this one. That may be why the non-Chinese audience quickly lose their interest and patience.