Zhì qu weihu shan
Director: Hark Tsui
Writer: Jianxin Huang, Hark Tsui, Yang Li, Chi-An Lin, Zhe Dong, Bing Wu
Based on: Bo Qu‘s novel Tracks in the Snowy Forest
Cast: Hanyu Zhang, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Kenny Lin, Nan Yu, Liya Tong, Geng Han, Xiao Chen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 20.9.2015
[Review by cornholio.]
After the end of World War 2, there still remains a lot of work to be done in China. Apart from destruction, poverty and hunger, there are also bandits who have taken over the Japanese weapons. A particular group led by Hawk (Tony Ka Fai Leung) has withdrawn into the bunker on Tiger Mountain. It’s Captain 203’s (Kenny Lin) mission to take them down. One of his men who recently arrived with reinforcements, Yang Zirong (Hanyu Zhang) proposes a plan where infiltrates the bandits, 203 – who doesn’t trust Zirong agrees only hesitantly to the plan. Will they be able to succeed?
The Taking of Tiger Mountain was too long, too propagandistic and too predictable for my taste. But at least it was pretty.
The story of the soldiers is framed by a young man in 2015 who reads Zirong’s journal. The connection of the two is only explained at the end of the film, but it’s easily guessed. And while that framing device is obviously there to connect the past to the present and to make it clear that the great Chinese people of back then are the same as the great Chinese people of today, on a pure storytelling basis it falls flat on its face as it only adds unnecessary length to an already overlong film, not in the least by having the story have two different endings, which I would have enjoyed if I hadn’t wanted the film to be over for at least an hour already.
Impressive visuals are one thing, when they come in good 3D, it’s also great. When paired with a soundtrack that is as openly manipulative as the one we get in this film, you’ll be entertained for a while. Depending on personal preference, it might even be a long while. But personally I will always look for the story.
And when the story is so utterly predictable that I could call who’d die and who’d survive in the first 15 minutes of the film, and when the story obviously wants to hammer home a political message I personally don’t approve of, there’s not much I get out of it, meaning that the movie starts to drag – which is exactly what happened here.
Maybe if they had shaved off an hour. Maybe if they hadn’t made this film obviously with the full approval of the Chinese government. Maybe then I would have liked it. You can’t have everything I guess.