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Confucius [Blu-ray + DVD]

Chow Yung-Fat    Blu-ray
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 19.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

Screen legend Chow Yun-fat stars as Confucius in the inspiring, action-packed saga of a leader whose wisdom and cunning were more powerful than any sword. In this sweeping battlefield epic, Confucius finds his lands threatened by the fires of war. After leading the nation’s most powerful army to victory against hordes of invaders, the new hero finds even greater danger in the jealous eyes of the aristocrats he fought to protect. From the Producer of John Woo’s Red Cliff and Jet Li’s Warlords, and captured on camera by Oscar-winning Director of Photography Peter Pau (Crouching tiger, Hidden Dragon), Chow Yun-fat delivers the award-nominated performance of a lifetime as a teacher, a military leader, and a legend in Confucius.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous performance by Chow Yung-Fat Jan. 3 2013
By RIP TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Recently got around to watching this film and was amazed with the whole production. I knew little of the man called Confucius other than he was a scholar that to some extent became a religious figure. I was wrong on the religous figure part after watching the film but was amazed to learn a bit about the life of this great scholar and thinker. Overall it was a fabulous film about a man who tried to better the world around him and in essence the whole world itself through education. I am sure there are many things left out in this film just because it is very hard to capture a person's entire life in just 2 hours or so. If you like historic films (in this case historically based and set, not sure of entire accuracy due to the feeling that there is some much missing in the story) you will enjoy this. During my entire viewing of the film not once did I feel it drag out in any place, just wish there was more story to the man's life. Maybe BBC will do a multi-part sereis covering the entire life of Confucius.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good movie April 1 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I bought this movie for my mom, she likes it a lot! I haven't seen it yet, but will !
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Night The Light Went Out For All Of Us.. July 12 2013
Format:Blu-ray
I really don't know why people always seem to grapple with history, it hasn't done
a dam thing to curb anyone's mind in terms of what we have witness,and for that matter
how we live today,nobody has learn one gosh dam thing so when i hear people write about
movies not being true to the facts, for crying out loud i haven't been living in 1506 or 1428 or
1225 or what the heck year ever,but i know one thing when I'm at work and i tell someone something by the
time it get to the fifth person the story has changed about fifteen times,let me say people will enhance
any dam thing there were told or see,just to be proud of what they said or see,and if you don't
believe that you're more stupid than you look,now i have some issues with this guy Edward Lee.who
is trashing the movie Confucius and what the director didn't do or what he left out,now i really don't
want to sit through about,let me see maybe 30 hours of Confucius life or More,and still find out it's not
right now that would make me mad,then I'm reading how the man was an orator and a skilled scholars,
and that he was,what Mr. Lee seem to forget he helped warlords kill people i wonder how you put that on a
fortune cookie, now i mean no disrespect to ANYONE, now i have to reiterate we have not learn nothing
from our history,the only thing i've learn is, that if you're Rich you get all the chances in the world,
and the other problem i have with Mr. Lee is,do you think for once you can BUY your own movie to
do you review instead of all the studios giving you one,and here lies the problem I'm talking about,
i my friend buy every movie i write about you can take that to Amazon.ca.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learning from a Master July 31 2010
By Lloyd Lofthouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The visuals through the movie are stunning and Chow Yun Fat does an incredibly convincing job of playing Confucius, who, no matter how much he was abused by his rulers, he still honored them, one of the flaws in his philosophy.

If you don't speak Mandarin and must rely on the English subtitles, be warned that most of the time the subtitles are mangled and do not stay on screen long enough to read. The challenge is to read the subtitle while keeping an eye on the stunning visuals.

This movie is an epic equal to Cleopatra, Moses or Sparticus. However, if you expect a potboiler, you won't get one--not all the time. This movie was filmed for a Chinese/Asian audience and their tastes are not as shallow as what most Americans prefer so there are slow but meaningful scenes that I'm sure are there for people to actually think. I'm sure the Chinese didn't want to ruin the movie by letting Hollywood get hold of it.

The DVD I bought and watched had a photo of Confucius with a beautiful woman on the cover. They must have added her to the cover for the Western audience since she is a beauty. However, in the movie, she plays a minor role and is assassinated for being too smart and wanting too much power in a violent world dominated by men, who are busy killing each other. She doesn't have much screen time. In fact, there are not that many women in the movie.

From what I know of Confucius, the movie showed him close to who he must have been--an honorable man who wanted to bring peace to a war-torn land and end the people's suffering. Like Moses, he spent more than a decade wondering the country in search of someone who would listen besides the rag-tag band of students who stuck to him like glue. If anything, we could learn something about dedication and loyalty from this band and their master.

I recommend this movie to anyone interested in China.
67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confucius Says "Making My Biopic Will Be Troubling" March 21 2012
By E. Lee Zimmerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Usually, I love films that depict the peoples, places, and events from history. Granted, I prefer that films "do it right," don't exaggerate the importance of people and events because, when they do, I think those pictures rob the audience of experiencing, first-hand, those moments of discovery ... let's call them even `moments of appreciation' ... for what a person, place, or event meant to all of history. When you rob the viewer from reaching that conclusion on his own, one could make the case that the flick is little more than historical propaganda. What emerges is a stream of half-truths - all bloated to underscore the producer's particular obsession with what he believes is inspiring - and nothing about the central figure is genuinely "learned" in the process. All that is "learned" is what the producer or the writer or the maker wanted. What's lost - the true impact on history - is often far greater than what's gained.

All of this brings me to CONFUCIUS. History tells me that Confucius is one of China's most revered and beloved scholars. He's known for being a skilled orator, quick with a reflective phrase, mentally adept with a command of didactic language. He was a sought after by leaders to provide counsel on a whole host of matters, from military engagements to advice in private affairs of state. What emerges from this motion picture, however, is befuddling, at best.

According to the box art: "In this sweeping battlefield epic, Confucius finds his lands threatened by the fires of war. After leading the nation's most powerful army to victory against hordes of invaders, the new hero finds even greater danger in the jealous eyes of the aristocrats he fought to protect." Now, those two sentences make perfect sense when read; but, sadly, what emerges on film is a man who tricks their enemy into surrender, and then he's snubbed by those - the aristocrats - he helped pull the wool over the eyes of their mutual enemies. The rest of film presents Confucius's life as a wanderer from land to land, and, somehow through it all, he manages to maintain a loyal following, though I couldn't - for the life of me - tell you why.

In fact, Confucius utters few epic phrases in this epic picture ... about epicness. At best, he pulls off a few solid suggestions, maybe a witty implication or two, but nothing I'd print on a fortune cookie. I say this not meaning for any of it to sound disrespectful or insulting, certainly not to any of the Chinese people, but I have to believe Confucius did far more good than what gets screen time in this two-plus-hour "epic." As usual, I've done some reading, and while I've read a far amount of praise for Chow Yun-Fat in the titular role, I have to admit some shock in saying I just don't see it. Chow Yun-Fat has always seemed far more at home with a blazing .45 in his hands. Here? I think his talents are wasted, though he did receive a nominee for `Best Actor' in the Hong Kong Film Awards.

It all looks very impressive, though. Peter Pau - the cinematographer for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON - makes it all look wonderful, and the special effects for what few battlefield sequences are shown here (there's essentially very, very little warfare because Confucius's strengths were avoiding it) are, indeed, wonderful. It's just all told with an overemphasis on maintaining a timeline; the people are completely and utterly lost - and devoid of any luster - within the frame.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the only person plucked from history and put up on the screen who appears even remotely legitimate (or real) is actress Xun Zhou. She plays a royal consort, Nan Zi, who apparently secretly loves (or admires?) the teachings of Confucius, though the film provides no essential backstory as to why. Also, her role here is very brief - it's hard to even justify it as a cameo, she's given so little to do - but the actress actually breathes life into her scant scenes in a way any talent should in a biopic. Everything else here is drily academic ... and not in the good drily academic way.

CONFUCIUS's greatest failure is that it's progressively frustrating. I'll try to explain that, though I'll admit this may be a bit difficult as the experience was more than a bit confusing.

The picture begins with a series of character introductions - seemingly every person and period involved requires a specific subtitle introducing or highlighting the importance to back to Confucius's timeline - and the narrative device simply never lets up, implying that the viewer might be loss without this service provided by the filmmakers. Then, the film unfolds as if requiring this ongoing familiarity with all of Confucius's entire life. It's almost as if the script were written only with "fans of Confucius" in mind, entreating the viewer to marvel, "Oh, yeah, this is the moment when Confucius first said ____" and "that's the first time Confucius said ____." (Confucius fans can fill in the blank.) Biopics aren't always this force-fed to an audience. At least, many of them I've seen haven't used this narrative device. I can't help but wonder if the screenplay required a few more drafts OR were the producers pressed for time and simply decided to go with what required the least participation on the part of only an informed audience. Having known absolutely nothing about the life of Confucius, I can say that, after viewing the film, I'm not inclined in the slightest to want to run out and read more.

In fact, how can a film detailing the life of one of China's greatest thinkers, speakers, educators, be so flat, dimensionless, and uninteresting?

RECOMMENDED with strong reservation: certainly not for everyone, but it's worth a single view, if even for its prettiness.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Funimation provided me with a DVD screener for the expressed purposes of writing this review.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film on historical philosopher Aug. 5 2010
By Brian Gammill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I saw this movie on an international flight, on my way through Asia. The small screen may have diminished the beautiful cinemetography, but I found the film quite enjoyable. It follows the career of Confucius from his role as a governmental minister who tries to bring virtue into the political rule of his homeland. His political philosophies develop into a more general social philosophy that he teaches to a band of loyal followers. They persevere through alternating seasons of favor and disfavor with various rulers. Ultimately, his philosophies of virtue prove to have pragmatic value to the governing of cities and territories. Consequently, his followers become desireable as governmental advisors or rulers in positions of authority. Seeing this film brings the ideas of Confucius to life and helps develop a sense of familiarity with one of the major figures of history.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confucian Cinema Dec 26 2010
By John C. Marshell Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am not sure I would rank this film with Spartacus or The Ten Commandments, but it is a very good movie, well filmed, with many aesthetically pleasing scenes. I cannot really speak about the historical accuracy of the film. The last book I read on Confucius was in college many years ago written by Herrlee Creel (Confucius and the Chinese Way). Though my Chinese history professor thought it was the best book Creel ever wrote, I am sure it is dated by now. The more current biography by Ann-ping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics, has received good reviews and may provide more insights into Confucius' life.

Unfortunately, I do not understand Chinese, so like the other reviewers, I am reduced to reading subtitles. There are "double subtitles," too. Some subtitles are incorporated into the film that provide historical background, another set of subtitles provide dialogue translations at the very bottom of the screen, and, yes, they move a bit quickly and can appear simultaneously, so you might miss things the first time through. Fortunately, the film is worthy of multiple viewings, so don't worry about this too much. The two scenes that impressed me the most were a dialogue between Lao Tzu and Confucius, probably inspired by the Chuang Tzu, shot as a dream sequence, as the two of them probably never met and the actual existence of Lao Tzu still a subject of debate, and the death of Yan Hui, one of Confucius' favorite disciples, who loses his life trying to save books from a lake. Both scenes have beautiful color and use light with great effect, especially Yan Hui's death scene in which the action is slowed down. You don't have to be a book lover to appreciate his courage and nobility in trying to rescue the things of greatest importance to Confucius and his disciples.

Chow-yun Fat's performance is very human. Confucius is portrayed not as an icon, but as a multi-dimensional and somewhat complicated character who maintains his principles despite adversity. However,I would have liked to have seen more in the way of relationship building between Confucius and his students. The film portrays Confucius' interaction with his students in wide bipolar swings, either aloof and restrained or deeply emotional and attached, depending on the narrative's needs. Developing the student-teacher relationships would have provided a venue for revealing more of Confucius' philosophy, which, I am sad to say, is a little weak in its presentation. While there is much mention of "humanity" and "propriety," important Confucian themes, discussion of the "Five Great Relationships," the character of human nature, or "filial" obligations seems slight and indirect. Though these themes are well incorporated into the plot, they somewhat suffer from it, as the plot can become complicated and hard to follow demanding careful attention from the viewer. Confucian philosophy can become secondary and obscured by the narrative. Notably, in first half of the film, when a political triangulation and court intrigue undermine Confucius' authority and sends him into exile. Confucian ritual is portrayed, but I think its significance is lost to the Western viewer. Consequently, Confucius, though very human, lacks intellectual depth, and a shallow sage he was not.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Overall, a fascinating film that is lacking in many areas of its storyline but still manages to be enjoyable. May 5 2012
By Dennis A. Amith (kndy) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
"What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." - The Golden Rule by Confucius

He is known as the greatest sage of all ages, the idealist and educator who was known for being one of the greatest Chinese thinkers and philosophers.

It is also through the teaching of Confucius' principles that is strongly intertwined into Chinese tradition and belief such as one's loyalty to family, worship of ancestry, the young must respect their elders and the family as a basis for an ideal government.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 2,560th birthday of Confucius, a film was made to honor Confucius, also in the hopes to remind Chinese of his teaching, introduce the younger generation to Confucius as well as those around the world.

VIDEO:

"Confucius" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). For teh most part, the picture quality is very good. Cinematography of beautiful landscapes and costume design are expected, but there are some moments where the CG and the use of the green screen didn't seem to look natural. Colors are saturated and there are moments where I saw some banding issues, but for the most part, the film looked good on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"Confucius" is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 via Mandarin and an English dub track. The film does utilize ambience especially the sounds of arrows during the action sequences, the sound of wind during the snow storm or the crackling of ice or even the breaking down of the city walls which sounded very good. But for the most part, the overall mix was adequate for this film. It's not an immersive soundtrack but dialogue is crisp and clear, the musical soundtrack by Jiping Zhao was fantastic, but the film is primarily front and center channel driven.

As for the English dub, I prefer to watch Asian films in their original language but for those who are not into reading the English subtitles and prefer to listen to the English dub, the good news is FUNimation Entertainment are known for casting wonderful voice talent and the voice acting may please those who prefer in hearing the English dub.

SPECIAL FEATURES

"Confucius" comes with the following special features:

From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius - (7:10) - Behind-the-scenes with Chow Yun-Fat and director Hu-Mei.
A Woman, A Bosom Friend - (7:04) A featurette on Zhou Xun and her preparation for her role.
Chaotic Period of Spring and Autumn - (6:59) Director Hu Mei talks about the creation of "Confucius" and the challenges she faced.
From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius Special Edition - (6:59) The cast and crew talk about the hiring of Chow Yun-Fat to play Confucius and their thoughts about working with him, plus interviews with Chow.
The Politicians - (7:12) A looking into the politics of the film.
Animal Stars - (7:43) Behind-the-scenes footage of the animals in the film.
Progressing in the Snow - (6:26) Cinematographer Peter Pau talks about the snow scene.
The Warfare - (7:06) How the green screen segments of the battles were filmed.
Original Trailer - (1:43) The original theatrical trailer
Trailers - Funimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

"Confucius" comes with the Blu-ray and DVD edition of the film plus a slipcover case.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"Confucius" was an intriguing film for me, but because I am not a Confucius erudite, I must admit, I felt a bit unsettled because I wondered how can someone with a life that has created an impact on Chinese culture, be condensed in a two hour film.

Also, because the film was made to help introduce Confucius to a new audience, a younger audience, the film could not be cerebral or too philosophical and thus the film introduced many war elements into the film.

For me, "Confucius" intrigued me so much that I spent hours researching his contributions to Chinese society, going through philosophy blogs that debate his book or those who support his work but also to go through criticism and praise for the film. To find out what people liked and what made people ticked about the film.

Suffice to say, "Confucius" has received a lot of criticism even before the film was made into a reality. For one, the hiring of Chow Yun-Fat (a Hong Kong Cantonese-speaking actor) instead of a mainland Chinese actor who speaks Mandarin and also the fact that Chow Yun-Fat's film career has been based on action.

Then there were rumors that drew the ire of many people. Mainly because of the film featuring Zhou Xun's character of Nanzi and that Confucius will be having a romance with the actress in the film. It's important to note that this never happens in the film but the rumors persisted especially due to misconceptions of the theatrical trailer that a descendent of Confucius filed a lawsuit in order to have certain scenes, especially anything intimate between Confucius and Nanzi to be removed.

And last, there were Chinese who were upset that Chinese authorities removed James Cameron's "Avatar" from film theaters and replaced it with "Confucius" in order to prevent the sci-fi film from taking any money away from "Confucius".

But regardless of the criticism of the film, "Confucius" was going to be a film that was not going to please everyone. As scholars and those who respect Confucius' teachings may find the film blasphemous because it does not focus on the actual idealist and educator but more of the politician and military strategist.

It is quite obvious that the writers had to make concessions in order to win over a younger audience but quite possibly an international audience. From the hundreds of arrows being shot in the air and a brave Confucius beating on the drums as arrows come crashing all around him. It does make for great action, but I am aware that the use of action in a film about Confucius may be disconcerting for those who want more of the intellectual side of the well-known sage.

And for a man with a long career, to fit so much into a 2-hour film, there is only so much that can be done. I felt the writers tried to appease both sides by bringing in a plot around militaristic action and balance it with the use of philosophy and ideals without being too cerebral and I accept that.

As for Chow Yun-Fat, I felt he did a good job at playing Confucius. And no, for those wondering if Confucius engages in any martial arts or if he fights, the answer is no. This is a thinking man, a man who appreciates music, ethics, politics and social relationships with sincerity.

As for historical accuracy, while his teaching can be found in the "Analects of Confucius", there were some instances that relate to his disciples that I was checking online for hours to see if these characters actually existed and if some of their demise was factual. I couldn't really find anything to support if the demise of disciples as shown in the movie was fiction or non-fiction but through my research, the actual events that relate to the states and the war, especially the "meeting" with the State of Qi and the tearing of the walls, information relating to those scenes were easily found online.

As for the Blu-ray release of "Confucius", the picture quality was very good but it did have some issues. Lossless audio was appropriate for this type of film, although it would have been even better to have a bit more of an immersive soundscape during the more action-intensive scenes. I am glad there were several special features that show the making of the film but also how passionate the writers, the crew and talent were in making this film a reality but also trying to be respectful to Confucius.

Granted, there is more to Confucius than what the writers could touch upon in 2 hours and anything delving too much into the idealist and philosophy may appeal to his followers and the intellectuals but that would have made the film too cerebral and would eventually turn off the younger viewers, especially many of its international viewers who are not too familiar with the respected philosopher. And because of its trailer, many people would expect war and a lot of battles.

Overall, "Confucius" was an intriguing film that was neither great, nor was it terrible. If anything, I was satisfied by the film to the point that it made me want to research all I can about Confucius for hours.

Prior to watching this film, I hardly knew anything about Confucius but now I find myself interested in reading the "Analects of Confucius" and discovering and learning more about his work.

For anyone who is curious about Confucius especially those who may be fans of Chow Yun-Fat or actress Zhou Xun, you may find "Confucius" to be intriguing, entertaining and a film worth their while.
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