The biggest problem with Founding of a Republic is that it is quite dull. An historic, or quasi-historic, film about the origins of the current government in China, the movie tends to be surprisingly free of anything of cinematic interest. The action is sparse, the dialogue is neither amusing nor animated, and all the major events are well-known to history students. The cameo appearances by several major Chinese stars, such as Jackie Chan, Jet Lee and Zhang Ziyi, are so short as to be hardly worth mentioning. We already know the outcome, and there is little in the film to hold the viewer's interest, aside from some of its subtle if unexpected features, such as its surprisingly enlightened attitude toward Chiang Kai-shek.
In much of the propaganda that pervades previous characterizations of Chiang and his Nationalist forces, the Chinese Communists have tended to portray the Chinese civil war as one of black v white, good v evil, with victorious communist forces "liberating" the people from an evil regime. These words still appear today when it is advantageous to Chinese communists' interest. But in this film Chiang seems reflective, fair-minded and concerned over excesses in his own regime--a rather positive image.
Mao is treated to several revisions, appearing jovial, tolerant, and even permissive of some forms of capitalism, the latter something Mao never actually was in his revolutionary days. Indeed, there is little revolutionary fervor in Mao's dialogue in this film, a fervor which in real life permeated Mao's thinking. This seems deliberate, as these ideas would accord little with the current regime in Beijing. In one scene where Mao is shown in an avuncular, loving role with children, even though in real life Mao abandoned his children to pursue his broad revolutionary ambitions.
While KMT excesses are detailed, including several assassinations, there is absolutely no mention of CCP atrocities committed during the Chinese civil war. And, while KMT violations of the interim treaty between the two sides are highlighted, there is no mention of CCP violations of the same pre-civil war accords.
While most of the film is richly detailed in costumes and settings, the special effects are not very realistic, with several airplane scenes being utterly unconvincing as they are obvious CGI. The film is a product of Chinese film makers, but political interests in Beijing factored heavily in its production. I doubt that the movie will generate much interest outside of China.
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