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Happy Times (Sous-titres français)

Lifan Dong , Benshan Zhao , Yimou Zhang    Unrated   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect July 16 2004
By Howie
I've long been a film buff - my favorite films tend to be artsy and rather pedantic. Because of this, my family generally doesn't like to sit with me and watch movies.
So, when I started "Happy Times" last night, I thought they'd gradually wander off and find something else to do.
But, they were enthralled! This movie is the perfect balancing act between comedy, drama, and the enduring love we feel for those who have touched us in a special way.
This is a great, great movie.
Too many Americans shun foreign films. This is one they shouldn't miss. When the movie ended, my oldest son turned to me and said, "Wow. I think Hollywood has forgotten how to make movies like this!"
American filmmakers seem to think they have to descend to the baser instincts in order to make "adult" movies.
Yet, "Happy Times" - and countless other foreign films - never seem to sink to this level. These films are always excellent.
I think the issue is that Hollywood has forgotten how to write a good story; they've forgotten that basic human values can be enduring, can be entertaining, if only they would jettison their cynical baggage.
"Happy Times" will make you laugh and cry, smile and reflect with pride on the better angels of our nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars [Anything but] Happy Times March 31 2003
Despite the upbeat title, 'Happy Times' depicts anything but...abuse by a stepmother, abandonment by a natural father, massive structural unemployment, a future of limited hope for each of the protagonists.
Through all of this despair, the natural goodness of Benshan Zhao's character (also called "Zhao") shines through. His ruses get more complicated and difficult to sort out, but in the second-half of the film, his growing care and concern for "Little Wu" (skillfully portrayed by Dong Jie) is obvious.
I defy anyone to watch 'Happy Times' without tears streaming down your cheeks by the end. I definitely recommend a rental/purchase, but you may want to pair it with something a bit more upbeat or comedic. This is a heartbreaking movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Glenn Laycock TOP 500 REVIEWER
I just happened to see this on CBC, and bought the DVD last week. It is worth seeing for the performance of Dong Jie alone -- what a wonderful performance. You will be touched by her expressions and gestures (grabbing the watch or shirt when stressed). The cast were so critical for this "simple" story as they convey a full package of history by portraying complete characters.

I did some research and found out the ending on this version was NOT the original. The original was less dramatic and much shorter - though it looks like the director perferred the one on the DVD.

This is a movie that dances around deception -- the floweres are cut to look like more expensive roses, the large woman treats the girl one way with company and another when just her son is there. It also shows how MOTIVE is key to behaviours and is the difference between angels and wolves.

There is also a theme of what "modern capitalistic" society sees as having no value, and throws away -- so the bus, factory, seniors, and handicapped.

There is far more to this story then is on the surface. I highly recommend it.


The original ending follows Zhao and "little" Wu walking to work. He finds the factory being demolished, but they continues into the "massage-room" where they sit while he reads her "father's" letter (the one Zhao wrote). As this happens, the camera moves away from them until they are in long shot -- with the room they made, surrounded by machinery taking the building apart with the inevitability that those machines will soon take the room apart too, and the film ends.

Both endings work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars IT IS MY FAVOR Feb. 19 2004
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5.0 out of 5 stars Happy viewing, at least. Sept. 21 2003
By A Customer
Zhang Yimou's ironically titled *Happy Times* is really a remarkable tightrope act: it offers us some very sappy melodrama while commenting on its own artifices, and gets away with it like a charming thief. Get a load of this plot. . . . A fat divorcee with two teenagers -- her own boy and a blind, unwanted step-daughter left behind by her ex-husband -- gets involved with an unemployed proletarian named Zhao. Zhao, depressed, broke, and lonely, claims he's a big-shot hotelier in order to impress the divorcee, who turns out to be very hard to impress. Hence, Zhao's lies -- as one might expect -- become more grandiose and difficult to sustain, especially after the divorcee dumps the unwanted blind girl onto his doorstep. "I'm sure you can find SOME work for her at your fancy hotel!" the woman declares. Zhao hits upon the idea of hiring the girl as a masseuse for the imaginary hotel's wealthy guests. But how is he going to pull THIS off? Desperately, he lets the girl stay in his shabby apartment, which he claims is a "worker's apartment" -- his OWN place, of course, is some unspecified mansion elsewhere. Of course, by now he's forced to get his fellow-unemployed friends in on the act: they pose as the wealthy guests and receive massages from the girl in a decrepit factory that they have hastily dressed up as a massage parlor at the "hotel". Once these jobless pensioners run out of real disposable income, they tip her with rectangular cuttings from brown paper bags instead of money. This all sounds very cruel, I know, but just watch the movie: Zhao and his friends come to feel a deep fondness for the poor wretch, who -- you guessed it -- just wants to find her father somewhere in Beijing so that he can pay for a procedure to cure her blindness. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful but underappreciated film.
As a longtime fan of director Zhang Yimou, I was surprised to see him change directions with 1998's Not One Less. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by yinan
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet little movie
This movie tops my all time list of Asian films. It covers the whole range of emotions - at times, it is absolutely hilarious, then absurd, and then very touching. Read more
Published on July 17 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Desperately seeking love...
A middle aged bachelor, Zhao is desperately seeking love and thinks he has found it in a woman who wants a large wedding. Read more
Published on July 16 2003 by Kim Anehall
4.0 out of 5 stars happy times
This is an excellent movie, but "the long way home" is similar and better.
Published on June 5 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Times---Learning to Live With the End of Illusion.
Zhang Yimou is always at his best when he is portraying ordinary people facing overwhelming circumstances. Read more
Published on March 8 2003 by Eric Langager
5.0 out of 5 stars Zhang Yimou does it again...
I was so happy when I was in Blockbuster last evening and admist all the Hollywood mass-produced "big A-list star" [movies] I was able to find Zhang Yimou's recent import. Read more
Published on March 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart rending
My university's east asian cultures department is showing an east asian movie every friday for a month and this was the first one shown. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2003 by Daitokuji31
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Story about a Girl and a Middle-aged Man in China
Very common error among Western viewers about "Happy Times" is the idea that this film is a comedy, or "basically comedy. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2003 by Tsuyoshi
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