films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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Dying to Survive

Wo Bu Shi Yao Shen
2018 / 117m - China
Comedy, Drama
Dying to Survive poster

A somewhat messy film that jumps between different genres throughout the course of its runtime. Dying to Survive starts as a lighthearted crime flick, but turns into a "hero of the people" drama halfway through. The biggest problem is that both parts aren't equal in quality.

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Cheng Yong needs money to keep custody over his kid, so he becomes a medicine smuggler. He travels to India and makes a deal with a local supplier. What he didn't anticipate was the need for this particular medicine. His business is a goldmine, but the government is onto him and wants to put a stop to the smuggling.

The first half of the film is pretty amusing. While the relevance of its themes is clear enough, the film isn't too pushy about it. That flips around during the second part, where the drama begins to feel a bit overdone and the heroism becomes slightly annoying. Not bad, but it would've been a lot better if the film had been a bit more consistent.

My People, My Country

Wo He Wo De Zu Guo
2019 / 158m - China
Drama - Anthology
My People, My Country poster

There's a lot of flag-waving and chest-thumping going on here, but look past that and you'll find a decent anthology celebrating the achievements of the little people, helmed by some of China's prime directors. It was a little too sentimental and overdone in places, but it wasn't as terrible as I had initially feared it would be.

Nice View

Qi ji ยท Ben Xiao Hai
2022 / 106m - China
Nice View poster

China cinema has latched onto sentimentally, and the formula seems to be working for them. The big Chinese blockbusters nowadays are all feel-good, mushy dramas. There is some quality there, but cheesy conclusions and overly obvious morality really make them difficult to love.

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Jing Hao is forced to take care of his little sister, who urgently needs surgery. One day he hits the jackpot when he can buy up a shipment of faulty phones, but right then the Chinese government cracks down on refurbished hardware. Hao won't give up though, and powers on through to get the money he needs to make his sister better.

The drama is decent, but the feelgood is pretty cringe-worthy. The finale in particular (when everybody helps out and Hao overcomes all his problems) is just terrible and takes away from the drama built up during the middle part. It works for Hollywood though, and now China seems hooked too. Maybe some cultural differences aren't that huge after all.