Taking of Tiger Mountain Movie Review


 智取威虎山

Anyone here familar with those Chinese movies of the 70s? Where everyone has flawless complexion, cherubic faces, and the entire movie is like a big propagana campaign for the PRC government?

 Well, the Chinese title of the movie is actually the same as that of an opera, one of eight allowed by the Communist government during the Cultural Revolution, and Tsui Hark has decided to re-enact it, with the same bravado, total sacrificial comradeship, and in light of the more 'contemporary' productions now popular in Mainland China, this comes as a breath of fresh air.

Sure, the total devotion of a band of poorly equipped, ill fed, yet highly motivation and skilled ragtag bunch of soldiers is unreal, yet, it plays out in contrast to the current crop of movies which showcase the harsh reality of life in the current 'pseudo' social China. Nowadays movies reveal the scant regard for Marxist values and the everyman for himself kind of society, where money, and power are the real power, and yet, the divide between the haves and the have nots is never as great.

Here, we harken to a different past genre of movie, where the good are selfless, handsome, and totally committed to the team. There is no sex, violence is rather clean, even the blood spurts from gunshot wounds are clean. All the stars look superb, every shot fired by the heroes counts, and they face impossible odds with the same anticipation as the modern Chinese faces a major Apple Store sale.

The plot is simple, and is based on an old folk lore, about a band of PLA or People's Liberation Army troops in the post WWII period, who fight bandits and help the poor villagers.

They find Lord Hawk holed up on Tiger Mountain, and he threatens to become a major power in Northeastern China, and despite the odds, they faces adversity with courage, fortitude and determination.

Chick factor: you get two sweet faces, but there's no real action on this front, but you won't miss it.

The surround channels are busy enough, and most modern Chinese / HKG shows have solid sound engineering, so this show is one for the home theatre afficiandoes.

If you dig the kind of lingo, and long for these 'classic' shows, you will enjoy the stirring brass tunes, the comradeship and the whole "Band of Brothers" feel. I am sure the Chinese government had no objections to this show, and perhaps help with the authenticity by providing the time period accurate costumes and weapons.

I know my dad would have loved this thrilling war epic, and it would have made him all nostalgic and bring him back to a time in the past when life was a little simpler. Well at least on celluloid.

Recommended for at least rental, and a keeper if you can understand the dialogue and the period.



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 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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