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The Flowers of War
BLU-RAY disk
Aug 7, 2012 By: Mathew Plale
The Flowers of War order download
Director:
Zhang Yimou

Actors:
Christian Bale
Ni Ni
Huang Tianyuan

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
As Japanese forces invade China's capital, an American mortician (Bale) develops a plan to hide a group of schoolgirls and prostitutes, then help them escape.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Prologue text tells us that, in 1937, Japanese forces invaded Chinaís capital, Nanking, destroying the city, raping its women and claiming the lives of 200,000. According to some historians, the number could be upwards of 300,000.

But since itís awfully hard to put a smiley on such an atrocity, Zhang Yimouís The Flowers of War focuses only on a small group of women, guarded by an American named John Miller (Christian Bale), an alcoholic mortician in town on business. Under the watch of Miller, a dozen schoolgirls, prostitutes and a young orphan named George (Huang Tianyuan) seek refuge in an abandoned cathedral. Praise the Lord for the White Man!

The film, like Miller, has good intentions. Many sequences are well-directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) and it has great photography by Zhao Xiaoding (Oscar-nominated for his work on House of Flying Daggers), because the two men are some of the finest Chinese filmmakers today. Shooting on location adds a much-needed layer of authenticity, which makes the gunfire and blood that more real and brutal--when itís not overly dramatic through Woo-like slow-motion and Kill Bill-esque spraying.

Itís clear Zhang Yimou feels the need to tell the story to a wide audience. But he doesnít seem to want to explore it without the help of a Western star. The Flowers of War is one of many movies where an international issue is simplified and looked at without any true risk. Itís a disappointing move from Zhang Yimou, who should have more invested in the story besides a 142-minute runtime.
THE EXTRAS
The Birth of The Flowers of War (21:08): This behind-the-scenes look at The Flowers of War offers interviews as well as rehearsal and on-set footage to illustrate the research and work that went into making the film.

Meeting Christian Bale (16:20): This piece, as expected, is devoted to Bale. Thereís a lot of great behind-the-scenes footage of Bale, as well as thoughts on working on the film and in a bilingual environment.

The Newborn Stars (22:16): Here, the young and inexperienced cast is put under the spotlight to discuss acting in their first movie.

Hard Time During War (20:07): This featurette looks at the challenges of filming of The Flowers of Warís action/battle sequences.

Perfection of Light and Color (13:55): This featurette takes time to look at the stained glass window set piece and the frigid weather the crew encountered during production.

Trailer
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The Flowers of War is a disappointment from Zhang Yimou, director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Its intentions are good and Zhang Yimou has a great eye, but the film simplifies the issue and relies too heavily on the white savior angle. For fans, this Blu-ray looks and sounds great, and includes over 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.
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