Monday, February 10, 2014

771. Hong Gao liang/Red Sorghum (1987)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Zhang Yimou
Written By: Jianyu Chen, Wei Zhu, from the books Red Sorghum and Sorghum Wine by Yan Mo
Main Cast: Gong Li, Jiang Wen, Ji Chunhua, Teng Rujun


Now you KNOW I'm putting in overtime, as their hasn't been a post made past midnight in a long time. It used to be the norm, but recently my eyelids start getting pretty heavy around eleven-ish and thus, I usually only have energy for watching the movie. Anyway, I'm looking to finish up the current season on Tuesday, which means I need to knock these final four out. Let's get on to "Red Sorghum", shall we?

The film is set in the late 20s/early 30s, in China and is told, via narration, by the grandchild of the main characters. Speaking of the main characters, the film starts out with a younger version of the narrator's grandma (Li) being escorted, via sedan, to be married to a rich distillery owner, who is also a leper. Along the way, one of the sedan carriers tries to strike up conversation with the woman, but to no avail. Along the way, the sedan passes through a field of sorghum and eventually makes it to the destination. Three days after her wedding, custom dictates that the woman return home to visit her father. When she does, the two quarrel and she leaves. However, while she's away visiting, her husband - the distillery owner - is murdered. Many believe that it is the sedan carrier, who we know via the narration is the narrator's grandfather, may have had something to do with the leper's death. With her husband now dead, the woman allows herself to be "taken" by the sedan carrier, but following their rendezvous, the woman returns to the distillery, where she tells her workers that she'll pick up the reigns of the operation and keep the business running. They shut down for three days, in order to get prepared and then re-open. The sedan carrier continues to come around, but the woman, at first, wants nothing to do with him, considering he's a lush. Later, the story takes a turn, when the invading Japanese are introduced.

Wow, what a HUGE disappointment! After watching "Raise the Red Lantern", I was really looking forward to seeing this, only to have my high hopes dashed not far into the movie. I'm not sure how one film can have such a great story, filled with revenge, betrayal, heartbreak, intrigue and drama ("Raise the Red Lantern") and another can be filled with such a pointless story, that seemingly goes nowhere and is quite boring, even at only ninety minutes ("Red Sorghum"). I haven't witnessed a director embrace both sides of the spectrum this drastically in quite sometime. Anyway, this was just not good. I wanted to like it, but I don't think my hopes were so high that it impacted my enjoyment. The entire film is LITERALLY, girl gets married, girl's husband dies, girl owns a distillery, girl has affair with sedan carrier, they have a kid, the Japanese invade, the end. That's it! Granted, there were times near the end when I was fighting to keep my eyelids raised, but had the film been the slightest bit interesting to me, I wouldn't have had to do that. I'm not used to staying up quite this late, but even if I'd been 100% refreshed, I just know I wouldn't have been able to settle into this one. It just wasn't that good and a huge disappointment considering how much I loved "Raise the Red Lantern". On another note though, how beautiful is Gong Li? I really need to seek out and watch more of her catalog, as she is breath taking and not a bad actress to boot.

RATING: 2.5/10  Allow me to keep it short tonight as my desk literally sits right next to my bed and I can't resist it calling my name any longer. This was the pits and I was hoping Zhang Yimou would turn into a new director to keep an eye on. Oh well...


February 10, 2014  12:34am

1 comment:

  1. Pass.
    Sorry, nothing of any meaning or intelligence to say on this one.


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