films seen
26
average score
3.19*
nationality
China - 70 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
Ying Xiong
2002 / 107m - Hong Kong
Fantasy
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

Shadow

by Yimou Zhang
Ying
2018 / 116m - China
Drama,Action
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
Shi Mian Mai Fu
2004 / 119m - China
Romance,Fantasy
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
Jin Ling Shi San Chai
2011 / 146m - China
Drama,War
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.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

by Yimou Zhang
Qian Li Zou Dan Qi
2005 / 107m - China
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles poster

Solid pieces

One Second

by Yimou Zhang
Yi Miao Zhong
2020 / 104m - China
Drama
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 Love of the Hawthorn Tree

by Yimou Zhang
Shan Zha Shu Zhi Lian
2010 / 114m - China
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
The Love of the Hawthorn Tree poster

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

by Yimou Zhang
San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi
2009 / 95m - China
Comedy,Crime
3.5*/5.0*
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop poster

Curse of the Golden Flower

by Yimou Zhang
Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia
2006 / 114m - China
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Curse of the Golden Flower poster

Happy Times

by Yimou Zhang
Xingfu Shiguang
2000 / 102m - China
Comedy,Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Happy Times poster

The Road Home

by Yimou Zhang
Wo De Fu Qin Mu Qin
1999 / 89m - China
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
The Road Home poster

Keep Cool

by Yimou Zhang
You Hua Hao Hao Shuo
1997 / 93m - China
Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
Keep Cool poster

Shanghai Triad

by Yimou Zhang
Yao a Yao Yao Dao Waipo Qiao
1995 / 108m - China
Drama,Romance,Thriller,Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Shanghai Triad poster

Yimou Zhang's rather subdued crime drama. I really liked this film when I first watched it, I think I've seen this done better since. It's certainly not a bad one, with proper intrigue and sporting a very nice setting, but somehow it lacks Zhang's visual flourish, which left me a little disappointed.

Shuisheng is a young boy who is brought to Shanghai by his uncle. He works for Tang, an important gang boss. Shuisheng is given to Tang's mistress, who he needs to tend to. From the shadows, Shuisheng observes the lives of the wealthy, but he'll soon find out that this lifestyle comes with its own perils.

Gong Li is strong, as is the rest of the cast. I liked the inclusion of more prominent genre elements, and the mix of drama and crime works very well. I just remembered a more visually elaborate film. Maybe it was the restoration work that took away from the colors, but I was a little underwhelmed. A very good film, just not a personal favorite anymore.

To Live

by Yimou Zhang
Huo Zhe
1994 / 133m - China
Drama,War
3.5*/5.0*
To Live poster

Raise the Red Lantern

by Yimou Zhang
Da Hong Deng Long Gao Gao Gua
1991 / 125m - China
Drama,Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Raise the Red Lantern poster

Ju Dou: Secret Love, Hidden Faces

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

The inoffensive

Cliff Walkers

by Yimou Zhang
Xuan Ya Zhi Shang
2021 / 120m - China
Thriller
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.

The Great Wall

by Yimou Zhang
2016 / 103m - China
Fantasy,Action,Adventure
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
2007 / 100m - France
Comedy,Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Chacun Son Cinéma poster

Not One Less

by Yimou Zhang
Yi Ge Dou Bu Neng Shao
1999 / 106m - China
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Not One Less poster

The Story of Qiu Ju

by Yimou Zhang
Qiu Ju Da Guan Si
1992 / 100m - China
Comedy,Drama
3.0*/5.0*
The Story of Qiu Ju poster

Red Sorghum

by Yimou Zhang
Hong Gao Liang
1988 / 91m - China
Drama,Romance,War
3.0*/5.0*
Red Sorghum poster

Worthy but flawed

Coming Home

by Yimou Zhang
Gui Lai
2014 / 109m - China
Drama,Romance
2.5*/5.0*
Coming Home poster

Plain forgettable

Snipers

by Mo Zhang, Yimou Zhang
Ju Ji Shou
2022 / 96m - China
Action,War
1.5*/5.0*
Snipers poster

A surprisingly poor Yimou Zhang effort. Together with his daughter he takes on this rather generic war flick (and yes, it is about snipers). It's a new low in China patriotic cinema assault, with ridiculous bad guys (Westerners), heroic Chinese fellas and a very predictable outcome, highlighting the endless bravery and perseverance of the Chinese soldiers.

The film revolves around a single stand-off between two groups of soldiers during the Korean War. The Chinese are helping out the Koreans fight off the Western invaders, though the film focuses on a very minor conflict where two groups are trying to get their hands on some vital intel. The scope is really very limited, unlike other recent efforts.

The film looks rather cheap, the performances range from plain to ridiculous and the patriotic elements push away everything else. I think China has really reached American-level patriotism with this film, which is a sad landmark. It's hard to enjoy the little tension there is, which is a real shame if you consider what someone like Yimou Zhang is truly capable of.

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
Lumière et Compagnie
1995 / 88m - France
Drama
1.0*/5.0*
Lumière and Company poster

Codename Cougar

by Fengliang Yang, Yimou Zhang
Daihao Meizhoubao
1989 / 76m - China
Drama,Thriller
1.0*/5.0*
Codename Cougar poster