In an unusual distribution strategy, Cliff Walkers opened day and date in both the United States and its native China. This may be a mere showbiz footnote, but it does make Cliff Walkers one of the first feature films to be shot in 2020 and released in 2021, just like any regular movie would have been, had there been no… read more!
Movies Directed by Zhang Yimou (in alphabetical order)
Zhang Yimou has long been one of my very favorite directors, a expert at delivering both visual splendor and heart-rending tragedy. And even while recently adding action movies to his repertoire (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), he still showed a propensity for making great films. But Curse of the Golden Flower left me cold. Set in a corrupt imperial court… read more!
Although Happy Times doesn't strike the nerves as deeply as most of Zhang Yimou's other films do, even mediocre Zhang is good cinema. With this film he continues his move away from his earlier tragic, beautifully-shot melodramas towards a fresher, less-measured approach, and his subject matter lightens up too (though it still has great emotional pull). Happy Times tells the… read more!
Boy, the People's Republic of China sure went all-out when they wanted to make a fancy martial arts fantasy that was also pro-nationalist propaganda. For the most expensive Chinese feature ever (with a budget of a whopping $20 million - that's about as much as Adam Sandler makes per film), they hired one of their nation's greatest directors, Zhang Yimou… read more!
In ancient China, one of the Emperor's generals (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is sent to a brothel to track down a blind showgirl (Zhang Ziyi) who is believed to be part of an underground group of rebel assassins called the House of Flying Daggers. So he pretends to be a confederate of hers, "rescuing" her from prison and letting her lead him… read more!
It's always a pleasure to catch a new film by Zhang Yimou. I consider him one of the very best filmmakers working today. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see his masterpieces Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad or Ju Dou, among others. They all made a star out of Zhang's then-girlfriend, the amazing actress Gong Li, but… read more!
All aesthetics and personality traits aside, I see Zhang Yimou in the same light as Woody Allen, in that the films he made with his former lover, Gong Li, all contained intense waves of tragedy, usually resulting from the selfish actions of Li's characters (Raise the Red Lantern, Ju Dou, Shanghai Triad, et al). Similarly, Woody Allen's films with his… read more!
In 1987, Zhang Yimou debuted with the drama Red Sorghum, and instantly became China's preeminent – and often persecuted – auteur. 32 years and 20 feature films later, it's hard to say where his career is going. On the one hand, he's been helming big historical epics with failed crossover appeal (The Flowers of War, The Great Wall). On the… read more!
In 1984, Joel and Ethan Coen made their auspicious debut with the mean, dirty noir Blood Simple, set in rural Texas. Newcomer (and eventual Coen regular/spouse) Frances McDormand played the abused wife of a rich bar owner (Dan Hedaya), who finds love in the arms of her husband's employee (John Getz). The husband hires a sleazy private detective (the great… read more!