films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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Hibiscus Town

by Jin Xie
Fu Rong Zhen
1987 / 164m - China
Drama, Romance
Hibiscus Town poster

Archetypical Chinese 6th Generation melodrama. If you love people struggling in poor villages, relationships ripped apart by governmental decisions and bucket loads of social critique then this comes well recommended. If on the other hand you've had your fill of the endless Chinese poverty porn, it's best to avoid at all cost.

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Yuyin runs a successful food stand, with the money she saved she afforded her family a decent house. All goes well until the government sends out people looking for rightists and capitalists. Yuyin is branded a "rich peasant" and her wealth gets redistributed among the other villages. From that moment on, Yuyin's life spirals out of control.

Performances are rather weak and overdone, the cinematography is bland, the length is more than a little ridiculous and after having seen so many similar films, it isn't easy to still be moved by the drama. There are a handful of decent scenes that kept me somewhat interested, but overall it felt outdated and redundant. Not a good film.

Two Stage Sisters

by Jin Xie
Wutai Jiemei
1964 / 112m - China
Two Stage Sisters poster

A typical classic Chinese stage drama. Throughout the years this type of film has resurfaced several times in Hong Kong, generally helmed by respected directors. I'm not really a fan of the overdone drama, nor of the Chinese musical scenes that films like these tend to thrive on, and it seems Two Stage Sisters is one of the pivotal films in the genre.

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Zhu is a poor, rural girl who is sold as a bride. She escapes and joins a theater group, where she meets Yuehong. The two become sworn sisters. When the troupe is disbanded they travel to Shanghai where they become lauded actresses. But then Yuehong marries Tang, a wealthy man and their friendship gets tested.

There are a handful of scenes that still manage to leave an impression, especially because of their bright visuals, but the drama is pretty predictable and the musical scenes were more than a little grating. Add to that the mediocre performances and you have a pretty poor film.