The Flowers of War – 金陵十三钗 (Jīnlíng Shísān Chāi)

FowI admit that I am a sucker for sentimental war movie. If you give me macho war movie like Rambo, I will end up saying yeah that was okay…but if you give me a war movie with a touching story, I most likely will end up liking it.

I should point out that till this day Saving Private Ryan is still my most favorite war movie because it has amazing war scenes accompanied with heart-warming story. Flowers of War is a bit like SPR, it has amazing war scenes and heart-warming story.

When Caroline @ Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat mentioned about Flowers of War as one of her readalong list, I Immediately remembered that I wanted to watch Flowers of War. I actually wanted to see it in cinema but the timing was all wrong…however, I am glad I didn’t watch it in cinema because it would be very embarrassing to come out with puffy eyes 😉

I have to be honest that one of the reason I want to watch FoW is because of Christian Bale, he is one of few actors I admire for taking a chance to do challenging characters. However, as Oboki had expressed on Caroline’s comment’s form:

By coincidence, as I’ve just noted on my blog, I tried watching The Flowers of War the other day (Zhang Yimou is one of my favourite directors) but found it a bit dull; and was generally annoyed by the central American character.

I was worried about the same thing too. I don’t want it to be like The Last Samurai. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case at all. The American did help but he was not the center of everything.

The movie started with a very well done war scene. There was a scene that really touched my heart, I was unable to stop my tears when watching the human shield fell down one by one. The scene was unbearably sad and the music was done perfectly to support the irony of the situation.

“The Chinese army didn’t have adequate weapons to destroy the enemy’s tanks, so they employed a tactic from ancient warfare. They formed a human shield to get a bomb close to the tanks. At that time, the Chinese people couldn’t bear the thought of losing their country, and such selfless acts were not uncommon.”

Human Shield

I think the main reason why I cried at that scene was because I live in the country where we were once like them…we would rather give our life than have our country taken away from us.

In the commotion, a group of young girls were trying to get back to the church as they believed the church would protect them. Two of the girls got separated and John Miller, a western mortician took them back top the church. Miller was an annoying heartless man, he only cared for money and fun things. George Chen, the only boy in the church, begged him to take them away from Nanjing but he ignored him because he wouldn’t do free job.

Out of the blue, a group of gaudy prostitutes barged into the church. At the beginning, I really hate those women…I really hate the way they treated the soldier with no respect at all. The young girls now have nothing but ignorance prostitutes and white man. They showed nothing but selfishness. But everything started to change when a group of Japanese Soldier came into the church. They hunted the girls to satisfy their thirst of women. Something inside John’s selfish heart stirred and he acted as the priest of that church to protect the girls. One event led to another, and slowly the prostitutes gained more respect from both the girls and me as a viewer.

From wikipedia: Roger Ebert, who gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, took issue with centering the story around a white American, “Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too much?”

To some people, it might appear that the American was the one who saved the day…but the way I see it, he was merely a vehicle who help the girls, the ones who really helped them were the prostitutes…and that is the reason why I like this movie. The centre of the story is the prostitutes, just like the title, they are The Flowers of War.

The prostitues

Movie Detail:

Director: Zhang Yimou
Producers: Ryan Kavanaugh, William Kong, David Linde, Zhang Weiping, Zhang Yimou
Screenplay: Liu Heng
Based on: 13 Flowers of Nanjing by Geling Yan
Starring: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi, Tong Dawei, Atsuro Watabe, Shigeo Kobayashi, Cao Kefan
Rating: 4 stars
Other Reviews: Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.

This movie served two blogging events at once and both events are hosted by Caroline 😉

This is my third movie for World Cinema Series hosted by Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.

World Cinema Series: China

32 Comments Add yours

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Fine review, Novoz. One of the more memorable films I watched in 2012.

    1. Novroz says:

      May I assume you liked it, Mike?
      I read so many who didn’t like it and glad to find someone who like it 🙂

      1. le0pard13 says:

        Yes, I did. Haunted me, though.

        1. Novroz says:

          Haunted you? how?

          1. le0pard13 says:

            As in the film remained in my thoughts long after I screened it.

          2. Novroz says:

            I see…some war movies have that kind of effect.

    1. Novroz says:

      It’s a movie with mix review…few like it more hate it 😉 I am in the few group.

      1. It’s what makes you unique, i’ll give it a shot 😀

        1. Novroz says:

          Aww…Thank you Tim, looking forward to know what you think and hope you’ll like it too

  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks for this wonderful review. Two of my blogging events. 🙂
    The movie sounds really good and I would so love to watch it but it sounds very different from the book, of course the central story is the same but the episodes seems to be in different order. I loved the book by the way as well and it moved me quite a bit. I think she did an amazing job at guiding us slowly towards the horrors (in the movie it seems to start with a terrible scene).
    My review is due on Thursday, I’ll add your review (to both events 😉 ).

    1. Novroz says:

      I am curious to know your assesment after watching it and comparing it with the book.

      Jo dislikes the movie…no surprise because I also often hate a movie which didn’t follow the book.

      I really like it despite all the plotholes in it because I like the idea of people from the low class can also be heroes with big hearts.

      1. Caroline says:

        I saw her review of the book and understand why she didn’t like it so much. The characters do not seem so well developed.

        1. Novroz says:

          Yeah I have read her review too and understand why she didn’t like it. Maybe I wouldn’t either if I read the book, somehow I am glad i watched it before I read it 😉

  3. Genki Jason says:

    Interesting review. I’ve not seen this film but I know of a similar one called City of Life and Death. Similar subject but done in a less gaudy way – it is much tougher, in black and white and the patriotic heroism is toned down.

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you, Jason 🙂
      City of life and death? Sounds interesting from the title only. Where is the origin of the movie? Maybe I can track it

      1. Genki Jason says:

        It’s a Chinese film. A bit late for the feature!

        1. Novroz says:

          Ah!! well it might be too late for the feature but I can still watch it if I can find it 😉

  4. ruth says:

    Great review Nov! I must admit I wanted to see this for Bale, too. You mentioned Saving Private Ryan which I haven’t seen because of its extremely gory depiction (for my standard anyway), I hope this one isn’t too gory. I’m curious to see Bale here and I’ve read that his character is more than meets the eye.

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you, Ruth 🙂
      Nope…this one is not gory at all, by my standard 😉
      Yup, his character develops as the story goes.

  5. Alice Audrey says:

    I really don’t like movies that leave me with puffy, red eyes, even if I don’t have to leave the cinema that way. But I love Saving Private Ryan.

    Harsh as it may be, the human shield idea doesn’t surprise me a bit.

    1. Novroz says:

      I kinda like sad movies like that…but not the ones which are too smaltzy (I think I wrongly spell this word).

      Human shield happens all the time in a war between a superior country with a less superior one…one sad fact.

      1. Alice Audrey says:

        Sometimes I like schmaltzy because it lets me not take things so flipping seriously. Not that I’m all that serious of a person.

  6. Wow you actually made me want to see this. I saw the poster when I’m watching something else in the cinema. If only I’d have more time to watch movies now. But great review!

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you Andina 🙂
      You should try watching it, I am curious with what you’ll think. A movie with mix review always makes me curious to know what others think

  7. Nina says:

    Oh wow, I’ve been meaning to watch this ever since I found out Christian Bale was in it and it turned out to be a foreign language film, so I definitely have been meaning to watch. Oh yeah, and then there was that moment when my tutor showed us a clip in my seminar, I was so surprised! Great Review!!!! I definitely feel like watching it now. 🙂

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you, Nina 🙂
      When I saw the trailer, I also didn’t know that it’s a foreign country.
      I hope you’ll enjoy the movie as much as I am because the movie is the sort that divides people into haters and lovers.

      1. Nina says:

        I hope so too!!! 🙂

Say something so I know you have read my post, THANK YOU for reading :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s