The Films of Zhang Yimou

In April of last year I wanted to watch Zhang Yimou’s Shadow, one of his newer films that I hadn’t seen et, and at the time I decided that I would start by doing a massive re-watch of his work. During my university years, when I made a switch to studying History, and then veered into Asian Studies, his films had a very strong influence on me. It had been ages since I had revisited his films, and there were a few (more recent ones) that I had missed as well. It took me longer than expected, as I took a long break at some point, but today I finally capped this movie marathon of 17 films with Shadow. The ones I didn’t get to watch I just wasn’t able to find ways to watch them — there are a couple of older (lesser known) ones, as well as a few films from the last decade, including three films he has released since Shadow, which came out in 2018. I hope to be able to watch these as well at some point. But for now, you can read my mini reviews that I posted on Letterboxed via the links below — I also shared them all in this Twitter thread.

  1. Red Sorghum (1988)
  2. Ju Dou (1990)
  3. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
  4. The Story of Qiu Ju (1992)
  5. To Live (1994)
  6. Shanghai Triad (1995)
  7. Keep Cool (1997)
  8. The Road Home (1999)
  9. Happy Times (2000)
  10. Hero (2002)
  11. House of Flying Daggers (2004)
  12. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005)
  13. Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
  14. The Flowers of War (2011)
  15. Coming Home (2014)
  16. The Great Wall (2016)
  17. Shadow (2018)

Debaser Uncategorized

The Assassin

I was deeply affected by this movie. My first steps to Asia were taken after I enrolled in an East-Asian Studies program, focusing on the Chinese side, which led me to studying in China. Chinese cinema – especially the work of Zhang Yimou, and but even a film like Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor – contributed greatly to my infatuation and desire to study that culture, and for a long time I remained a big fan of that region’s filmmaking (China/Taiwan). It’s something that I’ve left a bit behind over the years, but the talk surrounding Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin had me longing to see it – it also didn’t hurt that one of my favorite actresses, Shu Qi, is in it – and I was not disappointed. The Assassin is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, and I was just constantly wowed by the choices the director made – not showy, and even slightly off, yet always mesmerizing. It’s also another interesting take on the tradition of kung-fu cinema, coming off as more arty than something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which although beautiful, still felt like an action film. It may not be for everyone, but I watched it in a trance-like state, and can’t recommend it enough.