films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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First Time

by Yan Han
Di Yi Ci
2012 / 102m - China
First Time poster

First Time is a superb example of how to do romance right, without necessarily ending up in arthouse territory.

Animal World

by Yan Han
Dongwu Shijie
2018 / 132m - China
Mystery, Fantasy
Animal World poster

A zany, outlandish and fun mix of action and mystery. It's not often China attempts a manga adaptation, but Yan Han clearly is the right man for the job. Animal World is a slick, lush and exciting genre bender, as long as you make peace with its rather preposterous premise. Already looking forward to the sequel.

Dream Breaker

by Yan Han
Po Meng You Xi
2017 / 101m - China
Fantasy, Sci-fi
Dream Breaker poster

Yan Han does an urban fantasy/sci-fi mix, supervised by Sion Sono. The result is a mad blend of China and Japan that is a little inconsistent in places, but scores points by being wildly creative and visually stunning. Yan Han is quickly outgrowing his status of upcoming talent and is turning into a genre leader.

A Little Red Flower

by Yan Han
Song Ni Yi Duo Xiao Hong Hua
2020 / 122m - China
Drama, Romance
A Little Red Flower poster

I've really liked Yan Han's work so far, but I was a bit worried when I heard he was tackling one of my least favorite (drama) genres. And sure enough, the result is pretty much what I expected it to be. Han's talent is hard to miss, but on an emotional level A Little Red Flower fell a bit short.

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Yihang Wei is a kid who is faced with the consequences of cancer at a very young age. After a successful operation he tries to pick up his life and things look up when he bumps into Xiaoyuan. After a rocky start, the two quickly become best friends, but tragedy hits when Xiaoyuan also falls ill.

Disease-based romance and tragedy has been quite popular in Asia the past decade and this film merely continues that tradition. Han's knack for beautiful visuals is there, and the actors do a pretty solid job, but the story is just a little too sentimental. It's certainly not a bad film, but I expect more from Han.

Love Never Ends

by Yan Han
Wo Ai Ni!
2023 / 116m - China
Drama, Romance
Love Never Ends poster

Yan Han used to be one of China's more gifted directors, but he's defaulted to making schmaltzy Chinese blockbuster dramas. The quality is still there, in some ways at least, but now it's packaged in rather mediocre films geared at making as much money at the box office as possible, more so than anything else.

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An old widower hears that his life is slowly coming to an end, with nobody to care for he is quickly losing his will to right. At that time he meets Li Huiru, he woman his age who also lives by herself. Their first encounter is thorny, but once they get to know each other love begins to blossom between the two.

Han's direction is pleasant. He has a knack for nice cinematography and with a proper cast at his disposal he creates some loveable characters, but the drama and romance feel a bit overwrought and a simpler setup might've helped to make it feel less like a deliberate tearjerker. Not bad, but Yan Han can do so much better than this.

The Day We Lit Up the Sky

Ran Ye Shao Nian De Tian Kong
2021 / 108m - China
Comedy, Music
The Day We Lit Up the Sky poster

Disappointing. (Modern) dance flicks are hot property right now and it's clear China is in no position to let a fad like that pass. I don't belong to the target audience of films like this, but with Yibai Zhang and Yan Han helming the film I did have certain hopes and expectations going in. It's a change this turned out to be a low point for both directors.

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A group of young failures are tired of being laughed at all the time. When they hear about a local dance festival, they want to enter the competition, for once committing to a goal. The problem is that they can't dance. They find a tutor, a young girl growing up believing she is the daughter of Sammi Cheng. With her help, they quickly improve, but time is running out and drama hides around every corner.

I'm not a dance expert, but even I could see the level of execution isn't very high here. Zhang and Han try to make up for it with light comedy, but that's a pretty poor solution. The music is also atrocious, the CG is subpar and though the ending of the film isn't quite as expected, it's still pretty cheesy. At least the two manage to shoot some pretty pictures and the performances aren't too bad, but that's not enough to salvage this film.