Dynamic actor Jackie Chan is working hard in trying to leave a firm and strong legacy in Chinese cinema and cinema in general. Perhaps he wants to demonstrate that his talents are not exclusively in martial arts films and comedies, but also in dramatic roles. And I'm happy to say that he successfully does that in "1911 Revolution," a formidable and epic film about one of China's defining moments in its tortured history. Historical movies just don't get better than this.
The film opens with the execution of Qiu Jin, in Shaoxing. She was a member of the Tongmenghui, a revolutionary council that wanted to end the imperial government. We are then taken to San Francisco, on April 26, 1911, when Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (Winston Chao) is speaking at a fundraiser to the Chinese community in that city, in order that money could be collected for the revolutionary army that was fighting the Qing Dynasty. It was thought, we learn, that "overseas Chinese people were the mothers of the revolution." Next, we see Huang Xing (Jackie Chan) commanding an attack on the governor's mansion, in the so-called Guangzhou uprising. Sadly, the uprising fails, but Huang Xing survives and continues the insurrection. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen remains in foreign countries trying to provide funds for the revolution and stop the support of the Qing Dynasty by foreign powers. From then on, we witness, step by step, the history of the revolution that ended feudalism in China and brought down the Qing, the final dynasty in the history of the republic.
"1911 Revolution" is magnificently full of historic information, which directors Jackie Chan and Li Zhang were able to condense in the film's 99 minutes. It is a true epic, with overpowering cinematography, astonishing production design and dramatic battle scenes. Joan Chen shines as Qing Empress Dowager (Longyu), who finally abdicated on February 12, 1912, ending 2,000 years of monarchy. And don't expect funny and martial arts scenes from Jackie Chan - well, there is one fighting scene, which I suspect was placed just for the hell of it. This is a serious role for Chan, who does it well. In addition, it is my understanding that this might be Chan's 100th film. The two-disc Blu-ray edition of the movie also includes deleted scenes, making-of feature, interview with actress Li Bing Bing, and more. (China, 2011, color, 99 min plus additional materials).
Reviewed on January 10, 2012 exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for Well Go USA Blu-ray.