films seen
25
average score
3.28*
nationality
China - 69 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

One of China's first landmark directors, who has managed to successfully reinvent himself a couple of times since he started making films. A master of visual epics, but also someone who finds his way around social dramas. Essential viewing.

Rare treats

Hero

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Ying Xiong
Specifics
2002 / 107m - Hong Kong
Genre
Fantasy
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Hero poster

Even though it was one of the first, Hero remains one of the best epic wire-fu films ever produced.

The good stuff

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Qian Li Zou Dan Qi
Specifics
2005 / 107m - Japan, Hong Kong
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles poster

Shanghai Triad

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Yao a Yao Yao Dao Waipo Qiao
Specifics
1995 / 108m - France, China
Genre
Drama, Romance, Thriller, Crime, History
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Shanghai Triad poster

Shadow

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Ying
Specifics
2018 / 116m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Action
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Shadow poster

A true master of color, Yimou Zhang surprises with this near black and white martial arts drama. It's amazing what he accomplishes with almost no colors to work with, Shadow is a true feast for the eyes. The story is amusing, the action spectacular, but this is above all a visual marvel like only Zhang can make them.

House of Flying Daggers

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Shi Mian Mai Fu
Specifics
2004 / 119m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Romance, Fantasy
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
House of Flying Daggers poster

Not quite as majestic as Zhang's Hero, but still an overwhelmingly beautiful martial arts drama with a few memorable scenes. The drum dance and the bamboo forest fight are amongst the best the genre has on offer. And apart from some sketchy CG near the end, it hasn't aged a bit.

The Flowers of War

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Jin Ling Shi San Chai
Specifics
2011 / 146m - China
Genre
Drama, War
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
The Flowers of War poster

The Flowers Of War borders on sentimentality and poses as a very epic endeavor. It's Zhang's magnificent direction that erases any major critiques, turning the film into a proper epic spectacle.

Solid pieces

The Love of the Hawthorn Tree

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Shan Zha Shu Zhi Lian
Specifics
2010 / 114m - China
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Love of the Hawthorn Tree poster

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi
Specifics
2009 / 95m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Comedy, Crime
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop poster

Curse of the Golden Flower

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia
Specifics
2006 / 114m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Curse of the Golden Flower poster

Happy Times

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Xingfu Shiguang
Specifics
2000 / 102m - China
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Happy Times poster

The Road Home

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Wo De Fu Qin Mu Qin
Specifics
1999 / 89m - China
Genre
Drama, Romance, History
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Road Home poster

Keep Cool

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
You Hua Hao Hao Shuo
Specifics
1997 / 93m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Keep Cool poster

To Live

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Huo Zhe
Specifics
1994 / 133m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, War
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
To Live poster

Raise the Red Lantern

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Da Hong Deng Long Gao Gao Gua
Specifics
1991 / 125m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Romance, History
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Raise the Red Lantern poster

Ju Dou: Secret Love, Hidden Faces

by Yimou Zhang, Fengliang Yang
Specifics
1990 / 95m - Japan, China
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Ju Dou: Secret Love, Hidden Faces poster

One Second

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Yi Miao Zhong
Specifics
2020 / 104m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
One Second poster

Yimou Zhang takes his short from Chacun son Cinéma and turns it into a full-length feature. One Second is an ode to the cinema (experience) of yonder, mixed with some textbook political critique. The latter got him into quite some trouble, I couldn't help but wonder why he even bothered to include it though.

A man escapes from a detention camp after he receives a letter stating that his daughter is featured in a newsreel. He travels to the closest village that's about to show the film reel, but an orphan girl has other plans for the celluloid. She desperately wants it to create a lamp shade for her brother.

One Second harks back to Zhang's early rural dramas, though the focus lies more on comedy and the communal feeling of an entire village coming together to watch a film. The cinematography is polished, performances are decent, and the peculiar ending is interesting, but this isn't really Zhang at his best.

The inoffensive

The Great Wall

by Yimou Zhang
Specifics
2016 / 103m - Hong Kong, Canada
Genre
Fantasy, Action, Adventure
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Great Wall poster

Chacun Son Cinéma

by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Olivier Assayas, Bille August, Jane Campion, Youssef Chahine, Kaige Chen, Michael Cimino, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Manoel de Oliveira, Raymond Depardon, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Hsiao-hsien Hou, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Aki Kaurismäki, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Andrey Konchalovskiy, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, David Lynch, Nanni Moretti, Roman Polanski, Raoul Ruiz, Walter Salles, Elia Suleiman, Ming-liang Tsai, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, Kar-Wai Wong, Yimou Zhang
Specifics
2007 / 100m - France
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Chacun Son Cinéma poster

Not One Less

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Yi Ge Dou Bu Neng Shao
Specifics
1999 / 106m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Not One Less poster

The Story of Qiu Ju

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Qiu Ju Da Guan Si
Specifics
1992 / 100m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Story of Qiu Ju poster

Red Sorghum

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Hong Gao Liang
Specifics
1988 / 91m - China
Genre
Drama, Romance, War, History
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Red Sorghum poster

Cliff Walkers

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Xuan Ya Zhi Shang
Specifics
2021 / 120m - China
Genre
Thriller
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Cliff Walkers poster

Yimou Zhang's latest is a typical spy thriller set in the snow-covered China of the '30s. Not a genre that is often tackled in Chinese cinema, but it's prevalent in the US and UK and Zhang doesn't really add a lot of flavor of his own. It's certainly not a bad attempt, it's just not a very notable film.

Four Chinese secret agents are sent on a mission to Manchukuo. When they arrive there, they discover there's a mole in their midst. Between completing their mission and trying to figure out who is selling them out, the four have a tough time staying alive, as everyone seems to be on their tail.

The cinematography is nice, though not up to Zhang's usual standard. The plot and acting are decent enough too, but the film's a bit slow. There's really no reason why this couldn't have been finished 30 minutes sooner, even so Zhang draws it out to hit the two-hour mark. If you love a good spy thriller though, this film has you covered.

Worthy but flawed

Coming Home

by Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Gui Lai
Specifics
2014 / 109m - France, China
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Coming Home poster

Big nopes

Lumière and Company

by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Vicente Aranda, John Boorman, Youssef Chahine, Alain Corneau, Costa-Gavras, Raymond Depardon, Francis Girod, Peter Greenaway, Lasse Hallström, Hugh Hudson, Gaston Kaboré, Abbas Kiarostami, Cédric Klapisch, Andrey Konchalovskiy, Spike Lee, Claude Lelouch, Bigas Luna, Sarah Moon, Arthur Penn, Lucian Pintilie, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Jerry Schatzberg, Nadine Trintignant, Fernando Trueba, Liv Ullmann, Jaco van Dormael, Régis Wargnier, Wim Wenders, Yoshishige Yoshida, Yimou Zhang, Merzak Allouache, Gabriel Axel, Michael Haneke, James Ivory, Patrice Leconte, David Lynch, Ismail Merchant, Claude Miller, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Jacques Rivette
Also known as
Lumière et Compagnie
Specifics
1995 / 88m - France, Spain
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Lumière and Company poster

Codename Cougar

by Fengliang Yang, Yimou Zhang
Also known as
Daihao Meizhoubao
Specifics
1989 / 76m - China
Genre
Drama, Thriller
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Codename Cougar poster