22 February 2013 | capnconundrum
It is rare for a movie to deserve one star. This would receive negative ten if such were possible.
This isn't just a bad movie. This was made by the state owned China Film Group to mark the 60th anniversary of their happy fascist regime. This "docu-drama" is a shameless, disgusting attempt to ram a skewed history, in which Mao is seen as a paragon of kindness, down a viewer's throat. To call this a documentary is an offense to all historians. This is history with a political agenda (not a rare thing for fascists). As a movie, it deserves one star. But again, this is not a movie. It is a shameless bid by an evil government to deify the monster who created it. IMDb should offer "black hole ratings" or something to illustrate the amount of genuine evil a film/documentary attempts to inflict on humanity. With such a rating system, this horrid spectacle would get ten out of ten.
You may be tempted to purchase this due to the martial arts stars on the cover. That's why it was purchased, as a gift, for me. Many famous Chinese actors make cameo appearances. Nothing more. Jackie Chan plays a journalist (although all he does is hand Chiang Kai-Shek a newspaper, so he could just as well be a salesman) and has a total of 2.5 seconds of screen time. I wasn't able to spot Jet Li. It isn't hard to imagine these stars being in the film just for the money, but given the content I was left to wonder if there was something more ominous at work. Again, I implore you, do not be fooled by their faces on the DVD cover into thinking that this is an actual movie.
Should you watch this out of morbid curiosity, look at the way they construct the drama. Notice the music--ominous in the background whenever the KMT is portrayed, jolly and twinkly whenever Mao shows his haircut. Mao smiles, lives (the idea that he is hiding is well hidden in the direction) in mud huts with villagers whom he always treats as equals. He is kind and a paragon of benevolence. Chiang is not portrayed as an evil man. The modern Chinese audience is too sophisticated for that. But he never takes off his military uniform. He is constantly cosseted during his time on screen.
Propaganda is in symbolism as much as content. This film is saturated with the former and heavily skews the historical accuracy of the latter. This is shameless propaganda. The more you know about politics, advertising, writing, directing, or the construction of any art, the more horrified you will be. The more you know about history, the more disgusted.