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Raise the Red Lantern-Mandarin

Zhang Yimou , He Saifei    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 174.88
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Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou) directed this fascinating, visually formal 1991 film about an educated woman (Gong Li) who is sent off to become the newest wife of a feudal nobleman in 1920s China. Nearly isolated in his spooky, palatial home, she develops relationships with several of the other wives and slowly becomes aware of a hideous legacy of punishment toward more willful women. The film has a brittle and dry quality that is deliberate, but also suggestive of Zhang working through various explorations of his own style (which he resolved in his next film, The Story of Qiu Ju). Gong Li, one of the world's great actresses, is superb. --Tom Keogh

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gong Li is the Best Unknown Actress in Movies May 21 2004
Format:VHS Tape
If there were any fairness in Hollywood, Gong Li would have won the Academy Award for Best Actress for any one of her many movies. Besides being drop-dead gorgeous, she is an exquisite actress of the first order. The opening scene, a close-up of her face as she resigns herself to her nihilistic future, will convince anyone of this fact. Raise the Red Lantern is a thinking, engrossing movie that dispenses with special effects and overwhelming scores and concentrates on story and acting. Zhang Yimou is famous for delivering biting criticism of the oppressive, delusional aspects of Chinese society. Raise the Red Lantern shows one very strong, independent woman's attempt to overcome thousands of years of historic oppression in early 20th ca China. Women are collectables for rich men, mere objects of possession. The horrific backstabbing and betrayal is among the women themselves as they vie for most-desired-object status. When the human need for dignity and respect surface, the repercussions are catastrophic.
The plot has been well documented, although this is one of those movies where the less you know going in the better. Suffice to say the first thing you'll want to do once the movie is over is to watch it again.
It is disappointing to see a number of very mediocre movies receiving 4 and 5 stars simply because they shun the standard Hollywood formula, as if mainstream automatically equals bad and independent automatically equals good. The mediocrity of these films becomes apparent when compared to indy films of the highest caliber, such as Raise the Red Lantern. Highly, highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This is a beautiful film, amazing, touching, moving and unique in many ways. But this is one of the WORST DVD releases I have ever seen. I know it's hard to get foreign language films, especially ones so removed from Western Cinema released in the West, but this dvd was atrocious.
It had the worst transfer, the film looked horrible, the quality was insulting to such a great film. The subtitles were few and far between, MAJOR dialogues are missing and even the title is mistranslated! How this could EVER be a mainstream DVD release I will never know but DO NOT PURCHASE IT, it will only make you cry a bit at the injustice this release has done for the film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Chinese Films Ever Made March 18 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is Zhang Yimou's finest directorial achievement. this a story about the hopelesness of early chinese scoiety where bigomy is commonplace and women are basically treated as slaves by their husbands. songlia(gong li) is pressured by her mother to get married. she gets married to a nobleman, he also has 3 other wives live as well and forms a bond with some of them. they are not allowed to leave the large castle-like estate and have their own wings of the house to stay in. they compete against one another for the attention of their husband so he will stay the night with her and he hangs red lanterns in whichever wing he spends the night at. there are twistsin the movie as to which wives are really her friends and which are not. this movie is truly remarkable. this movie introduced me to chinese cinema. i recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding March 18 2004
By ESQ
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is an absolute must-see. I first saw it on assignment from a film class. I absolutely loved it! The plot was most intriguing and engaging. The female is obviously a very talented woman as her acting was superb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Subtitler on drugs Aug. 24 2009
By Zione
Format:DVD
This is a wonderful, spectacular movie, one of my favourites, but this particular distributor has butchered it horribly. The video picture is mediocre quality, and whoever subtitled it obviously doesn't speak English, couldn't spell "cat" without a dictionary, and was likely drunk at the time. I highly recommend owning this movie - but not this DVD release of it. I've heard that the MGM release is a million times better, and it's next on my purchase list.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At last! April 22 2009
By Marz
Format:DVD
I have been looking for this movie on DVD for... ever. I was so thrilled to see it available here! Granted, this may not be a cinephile's dream and I was a bit worried after reading the reviews, but this is the version I used to rent as a VHS. The translation is the same, so I can't tell you if this has been badly translated...
Still, what an amazing movie! It captures a microcosm of tradition in a very enclosed, almost claustrophobic space in which women are taken in as wives to some old-fashioned man who plays a very secondary role despite being the husband.
The music is beautiful, the art direction is genius, the actresses are magical and overall, this movie is a gem. If you can find a criterion version, do splurge (I would have!) but for now, this DVD does the trick
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2.0 out of 5 stars not an edition for cinephiles April 2 2006
Format:DVD
Awesome, 5-star movie, but be warned if you expect a prestine copy. If you're a true cinephile and you're collecting, wait for a proper edition. It's really a shame such a scratched-up and poorly translated version is being sold. Insulting, really, because it's such a beautiful film and deserving of proper reverence.
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