Movie Review : The Flowers of War (2011)

Director : Zhang Yimou
Staring : Christian Bale, Ni Ni

Plot :

In 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China's capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller, an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls. Struggling to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army, it is an act of heroism which eventually leads the seemingly disparate group to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone

The movie opens with a war that shows the audiences that the almost $100 million budged is treated fairly. Soldiers are everywhere, gunshot and the destroyed city are so good. The cinematography is great.

Acting :

Christian Bale is always been a great actor, even though he acts in bad movie such as Terminator Salvation. Sometimes, I pity this guy. He always pours everything into his works, yet not everyone do the same. In this movie, Zhang Yimou seems to confuse how to direct Christian Bale here because he is not in his best performance here. He is good here, although I don't like his acting in some scenes, but overall, he's good.

Ni Ni is great here. Something is weird though. Her English is so good. Sure, she doesn't know where to pause and put stress, but for a prostitute who learned English in very short time, her English is amazing. From pronunciation to grammatical structure were perfect. Too perfect. I have learned English for years, and yet all of you can tell that my English is shit.

Huang Tianyuan as George is very good. Actually, I care more about him that Yu Mo or Ni Ni. How he actually disguises himself as one of the girls is nice and he does look like a girl.

The sacrifice, though, isn't really as touching as the promise. Sure, it is great to see the prostitutes actually have a heart to pretend to be the orphans so that the innocent children can be saved, but I don't really feel the "feeling" of the sacrifice that is made. I don't know why.  Maybe because of the lack of chemistry in the prostitutes and the orphans' relationship or maybe because the prostitutes haven't really shown any care from the beginning and then they suddenly become one of the "heroes". It just feel weird. Christian Bale too dominate the movie. This is a Chinese movie that was sent for Oscar, Bale should only dominate about 30-40% the most. The Chinese should be more dominant to show their power in acting and that they really deserve an Oscar statue. This film seems like it was a Hollywood movie because the one who dominate the movie is a Hollywood actor (like Kill Bill movie, a foreigner in Asian country)

The good thing though, we can see how cunning and rowdy the prostitutes are, how innocent the orphans are, the change that can happen in people (even though it just Christian Bale who looks like that). Sure, this is not a great film but it's good enough for us to enjoy the drama and the war. Don't expect something spectacular here but you will find some enjoyment.

I give this movie : B

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