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Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Bilingual) [Import]

Ken Takakura , Kiichi Nakai , Yimou Zhang    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 16.45 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

For the first time in years, aging fisherman Takata Gou-ichi boards a bullet train to Tokyo when he learns his estranged son is gravely ill. But at the hospital, his son refuses to see him. Daughter-in-law Rie urges Takata to watch a videotape of a documentary his son was filming in rural China. Moved by what he sees, Takata vows to complete his son's work. Though laden with obstacles, his odyssey into the heart of China and the kinship he develops with a fatherless boy and the villagers who care for him recaptures a sense of family he thought he had lost a long time ago. From the acclaimed director of House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A story from the heart. Jan. 15 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
.Another great from Jiang YiMo. How the Chinese give the Japanese heart . The Yunnan countryside and people are wonderful. The little boy is a treat. The Japanese man reveals the tragedy of the extreme self-discipline of a samurai nation. The tour guide demonstrates the charming socialization of the Chinese. I loved every moment. The rocks of the Japanese coast are a great setting alongside the rocks of Yunnan. One lonely and desolate, the other full of people in villages of stone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Great Movie Jan. 18 2008
Format:DVD
I saw this last year a Japanese cimrea Class it is one of those movies that really get to you at the end all I wanted to was call my dad and just talk
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Chinese Journey of the Soul Jan. 18 2007
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
There are a half dozen films that can change your life after one viewing. I felt this was such a masterpiece. A Japanese father who has learned to control his emotions discovers that his estranged son is dying of cancer. When he goes to the hospital room, the son won't let him stay. Yet the wife of the son is trying to reconcile father and son and lets it be known that the son adores classical Chinese opera.

Seeking a crack in which to connect emotionally with his son, the father then goes to China - where he does not speak the language - and seeks out a Chinese opera star so that he can film a production of "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles." Unfortunately, the opera star is now in jail, but that does not stop the father from trying to film the production in Chinese prison. The father's desperate struggle to do one last thing to connect with his son - a true act of love - transforms all who begin to come into contact with him...and in old age, the father learns the value of openness in emotions that had been so bottled up before.

Altogether, a wonderful film experience. Truly, I was shaken emotionally.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching Depiction of A Father's Love Sept. 8 2007
By Michael Lima - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Zhang Yimou's Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a brilliant portrayal of the love that a father has for his child. Zhang uses the character of Takata to fuel this portrayal. Takata has such a profound inability to communicate with his son that he uses his daughter-in-law as a de-facto "interpreter" between himself and his child. During these "interpretations", Takata discovers that his son had promised to film a Chinese opera singer playing his most famous role. As an attempt at reconciliation, Takata goes to China to finish this task for his son, who is dying of cancer. In going to China, Takata seems to face an insurmountable obstacle: a foreign country where a different language is spoken. However, in a clever twist, this obstacle actually turns out to be an advantage for Takata, because he is used to dealing in an environment where he is unable to converse with others. Takata uses the skills he's developed to compensate for his communication deficiencies in order to find the person his son wished to film. When that person displays some relationship challenges with his own son, Takata takes it on himself to establish a connection between the opera singer and his child. In doing so, Takata finally establishes a bridge between himself and his own son.

While the story itself is intriguing, it wouldn't work without amazing acting from all the cast (particularly Ken Takakura as Takata), stunning cinematography, and a lyrical script. All of these elements are present in Zhang's other films, like Hero and Curse of the Golden Flower. It's a clear measure of Zhang's talent that he is able to abandon the historic epic form of those other movies and instead utilize these elements to create an intimate, emotional portrait.

Some viewers may be reluctant to view Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles because all of the dialogue is in Chinese. However, the movie (like its protagonist) transcends language to movingly convey its core emotions. It's rare to find a moving portrayal of such basic emotions in any language, much less a portrayal that is also entertaining. For that reason alone, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a film that deserves a large audience.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prodigal Father Feb. 24 2007
By William Shriver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
After a solid start with a remarkable series of films in the early 1990's, Zhang Yimou has lately become something like the Martin Scorsese of Chinese cinema. For every character-rich, personal film he makes--the kind of film that made him a household name--he now mounts two or three big, action-packed epics tailored for maximum commercial success. Happily, RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, is of the former variety.

Ken Takakura is a quiet force of nature as he struggles to take unexpected and often inscrutable steps to atone for unnamed offenses against his estranged son, now dying of liver cancer. This leads him on a quixotic journey to remote parts of China. His character, Takata, attempts to videotape a masked performance that is missing from his son's cherished collection of Chinese folk operas. The plot, simplified, is this: "one thing leads to another . . . ." In other words, this is a road movie, purely but not ever simply.

It is a melancholy film, but one with moments of deep comic relief. Takata is left to the devices of a tour guide and "translator," Lingo, whose broken Japanese is so mixed up with his broken English as to make him virtually useless. When language barriers arise (as they constantly do), Takata must phone his original translator, Jasmine, who had to bow out when the quest ran into obstacles. At one point, Takata and Lingo find themselves in a remote village, where they have encountered an apparent impasse with the village elders. When Lingo is unable to translate the villagers' wishes to Takata, there is a hilarious parade of the entire party, up the steps of the terraced village to the highest rooftop--the only place in town where there is a cell phone signal.

This kind of story, where the narrative walks a razor's edge between sentimentality and earned emotion, requires a sure hand at camera placement. In this respect, Zhang, who started out as a cinematographer under Chen Kaige, is one of the most assured directors alive. His close-ups occur mainly on Takakura, whose face is all restrained pain. With the exception of two (related) scenes of explosive emotion, the camera tends to move away and give the characters--and audience--a respectful distance.

This Sony Pictures DVD boasts an ultra-crisp image to complement the perfectly executed photography. Set mostly in Yunnan Province, with its rolling green moon-scapes and forests of vertical rock formations, RIDING ALONE might have been a series of postcards in the hands of another director. But unlike the candy-colored cinematography of Zhang's most recent three action epics, the reds, greens, and browns that make up almost the entire color palette are muted with just enough gray to keep one's attention on the characters, not the backdrop.

Like Zhang's film NOT ONE LESS (1999), this is a story of an insular character who thrusts himself out into the wide world and finds that values follow actions. Takata, a near-recluse at the start, finds faith, friendship, compassion and forgiveness in his journey. It is a rare privilege to take that journey with him.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's worth going Thousands of Miles May 12 2007
By Matt Jarvis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Zhang Yimou once again shows us his background as a cinematographer. He uses muted colors for the scenes in Japan where the characters, except the son's wife (a very promising up-and-coming actress in Japan, full of emotive capabilities), have bottled up emotions. Then uses bright, saturated colors (infrequently overexposed) in China when the father is learning about showing emotions and showing emotion.

When traveling in China you hear about all of the freedom Mr. Zhang has to do whatever project nowadays as he is praised on CTV regularly, but it is still amazing that he was allowed to do so much in a prison.

Once again as in "Not One Less" he has shown that he gets to the heart of the story better without using an expensive cast of professional actors with big names. I think this saves him having to battle with professional actors about the acting craft that they "know so much about" and the roles come off the way he wants them to.

I think Mr. Takakura (a tried and true Japanese actor) did an excellent job as a foreigner in China and the film depicted realistically the difficulties of being a foreigner traveling in China. That is once again to the lattitude that Mr. Zhang is allowed currently and I want to thank him for his honesty because most Chinese do not recognize the difficulties of being a foreigner in China. Chinese people want to be good hosts but they also do not feel they should go beyond the status quo due to societal traditions.

It is Chinese tradition that there is heroic death and heroic recognition that moves others to become better. That is what has made their tradition of literature and film so rewarding in that one comes away with a feeling of improving one's self by completing the story and wanting to become better.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Human Feb. 16 2007
By B. Merritt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Getting into the human equation and away from acrobatic flying daggers, director Yimou Zhang spins solid gold in his latest film, RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES.

Set against the stunningly picturesque Yunnan Province in southwestern China, Gou-ichi Takata (Ken Takakura) leaves his beloved Japanese fishing village to travel thousands of miles and finish video recording a famous Chinese folk opera for his dying son.

Mr. Takata and his son have become distant since the death of Mr. Takata's wife, not speaking to one another for years. When word comes to him that his son, Ken-ichi, is in the hospital, Mr. Takata races to the city only to be rebuffed by his son's bitterness. Mr. Takata never sees his Ken-ichi, but his son's wife, Rie (Shinobu Terajima), tells Mr. Takata an interesting story about his love of Chinese folk dancing. She hands him an unfinished tape of Ken-ichi's work and, after watching it, Mr. Takata decides to finish the recording. "Not being good with people," Mr. Takata immediately encounters problems when he enters China. But he learns quickly, and finds humility within himself in order to finish the tape.

Mr. Takata knew that his son wanted to film one particular opera (also called Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles) sung by one particular Chinese man named Li. But Li is in prison after stabbing a man. Getting permission to film Li performing the folk dance from the government higher-ups becomes one of Mr. Takata's earliest obstacles. Then, after gaining access, Mr. Li has a meltdown, thinking about his own distant son. Emotional beyond repair, Mr. Li is unable to dance for Mr. Takata. So Mr. Takata leaves to come back another day ...but an idea is sparked in his head.

Mr. Takata goes to "The Stone Village" to see if he can convince Mr. Li's five-year-old son to come back with him to the prison so that he can visit. What follows is one of the most emotionally impacting moments in Chinese film history. Unable to be close to his own son, Mr. Takata transfers much of his emotional heft onto young Yang Yang (Mr. Li's son), and audiences will no doubt spill plenty of tears as this happens.

The beauty of the surrounding countryside in the Yunnan Province is an awesome spectacle to behold; a backdrop that towers in all its majesty.

Ken Takakura deserves Oscar mention for his quiet yet powerful (and heartbreaking) role as the conflicted and determined Mr. Takata.

All of the other actors are not actors, though. They are ordinary people picked by the director for their appearances and mannerisms; excellently done by the way. There's little doubt most will know that none of them have acting experience unless DVD watchers click on the extra features.

A brilliantly done foreign film that proves director Yimou Zhang isn't just an action freak.
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