The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War

The danger in the streets of Nanjing throws together a group of opposites --a flock of shell-shocked school children, a dozen seductive courtesans, and a renegade American posing as a priest to save his own skin, or so he thinks - all seeking safety behind a walled cathedral. Trapped by marauding soldiers, over the next few days the prejudices and divides between them will fall away as they unite around a last-ditch plan to protect the children from impending catastrophe. 2.6 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
The Flowers of War

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Drama
Director Zhang Yimou
Cast Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang Christian Bale
Studio Revolver
Release Date August 2012
Running Time 146 mins
 

The danger in the streets of Nanjing throws together a group of opposites --a flock of shell-shocked school children, a dozen seductive courtesans, and a renegade American posing as a priest to save his own skin, or so he thinks - all seeking safety behind a walled cathedral. Trapped by marauding soldiers, over the next few days the prejudices and divides between them will fall away as they unite around a last-ditch plan to protect the children from impending catastrophe.

Reviews

The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

Zhang returns to a theme he first explored 25 years ago in his first film, Red Sorghum: the Japanese invasion of China. Clearly, he feels deeply about the brutality of war, and there is violence here as searingly memorable as anything in Saving Private Ryan. Zhang is also keen to show the kind of heroism that war often engenders. It’s a deliberate throwback to much earlier films than Spielberg’s. Some scenes are reminiscent of Father Goose, in which Cary Grant, playing a drunken American expatriate on a South Sea island, helped children to flee the invading Japanese. I was even reminded of the Von Trapp family escaping the Nazis in The Sound Of Music. But if The Flowers Of War teeters on the edge of schmaltz, it’s never dull and always has plenty of heart.

03/08/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

Bale is forthright and emotional in the role, and with a hint of boyish vulnerability, even reminds us of his 13-year-old self in Spielberg's Empire of the Sun.

02/08/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

The Flowers of War is the Chinese equivalent of a Steven Spielberg film, horrific in its graphic depictions of death and devastation, but also a sentimental, awards-friendly love story and rousing boys' adventure movie: one sequence has a sharp-shooting Chinese soldier despatching a Japanese platoon singlehandedly. But like most Spielberg films, and that opening ceremony, it's an undeniably effective, skilfully assembled spectacle.

05/08/2012

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The Los Angeles Times

Sheri Linden

Having helmed House of Flying Daggers, not to mention the Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies, Zhang is no stranger to spectacle. Its place in a tale of brutality and emotional devastation is another matter — even if, in their very muchness, the lurid beauty of the visuals and the hokey exaggerations of the story are well matched. All that's missing are characters as fully realized as their surroundings.

23/12/2011

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The Sunday Times

Olly Richards

Zhang’s emotional palette isn’t so interesting. “Inspired by true events”, his film is effective, but its relationships don’t earn the tears he wants us to shed.

05/08/2012

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Total Film

Paul Bradshaw

Filmed like a graphic novel, Yimou’s carnage is frighteningly beautiful. Gratuitously harrowing at times, it’s an exaggerated and poetic horror that colours his cold apocalypse.

23/07/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Robbie Collin

Zhang gives his fondness for chaste melodrama and shimmering colours full rein: it’s a style that suits his courtly martial arts films such as Hero, but this material would have benefited from a more Spielbergian, or perhaps David Lean-ian, approach. When a young girl is pushed from a balcony, for example, Zhang slows the film to highlight how elegantly she falls, and how delicately her blood fans out. It’s an awkward clash with the plot’s seriousness.

02/08/2012

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Time Out

Trevor Johnston

The point about redefining notions of heroism does come through, yet tracking the nascent conscience of the white guy is surely the wrong story to tell in the circumstances, and Zhang’s flamboyant camera choreography and diva-ish flounces of melodrama are vivid but misplaced.

01/08/2012

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The Times

Kevin Maher

Boldly mish-mashing the best of the East and the West together may look smart on paper, yet up on that giant and unforgiving screen there’s a clunking quality of halting awkwardness to the proceedings which, despite some game attempts at psychological realism on behalf of the star protagonist, never quite evaporates.

03/08/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

The result is the sort of expensive, mindless kitsch Hollywood turned out as anti-Japanese propaganda during the second world war. It contributes nothing of value to an understanding of these events.

05/08/2012

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