Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
China release date: 20th December 2007
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 14th November 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Let me first say that this film is in Chinese with subtitles, so if you’re not keen on subtitles it’s probably best to stop reading now. I should also point out that the story is based on true events stretching from 1948 through to the late 1950’s. Given what was going on in that part of the world at the time some people may find it hard to sympathise with the main characters depicted here. Again, if this is the case then it’s probably best to stop reading now. So, now that’s out of the way, for those that are left, here’s a very brief summary (haters of summaries please erase the next paragraph from your memory).
We begin in 1948 when China was being ravaged by a civil war. Gu Zidi is the Captain of the Ninth Company of the People’s Liberation Army fighting the Nationalist Army. Having fought hard in many battles, severely depleted, they are ordered to defend a position against seemingly impossible odds. Gu is told that he must keep fighting until he hears the Assembly bugle call. They fight bravely but are ultimately overrun without Gu ever hearing the call. His last act is to make sure the bodies of his 47 comrades are hidden from the enemy. Miraculously he survives and goes on to fight in Korea, where he meets Zhao Erdou, a young Colonel who becomes his friend. He is injured and returns to the site of the battle where his command was lost to find his fallen comrades. This proves much harder than he ever imagined it would be. There is much more to tell, but I don’t want to give out spoilers, so I’ll end my summary here.
The battle scenes are really well done; extremely graphic and as well choreographed as any I’ve seen. The entire film is beautifully shot with some epic scenes depicting the true horror of battle. Great performances all round, but particularly from Hanyu Zhang as Gu Zidi, he really put in a tremendous performance.
Now, whether you agree with the politics or not, this film is about the camaraderie of soldiers and about coming to terms with the consequences of war. If you can get past the subtitles its well worth seeing, a truly epic film with some very touching moments. Yes, there are points where you think the politicians got their way, but I hope you can see through that. Over all… Highly recommended.
My score: 8.3/10
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0881200/
Official Site (Chinese): http://ent.sina.com.cn/f/m/jjh/index.shtml