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Xiu Xiu:the Sent Down Girl


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Product Details

  • Actors: Xiaolu Li, Lopsang, Zheng Qian, Jie Gao, Qianqian Li
  • Directors: Joan Chen
  • Writers: Joan Chen, Geling Yan
  • Producers: Joan Chen, Allison Liu, Cecile Shah Tsuei, Ruby Yang, Wai-Chung Chan
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Vid Canada
  • Release Date: Oct. 26 1999
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00001O2GH
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,422 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Directed by Joan Chen from an award-winning novella banned in China because of political and sexual content, "Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl" is a powerful love story. Between 1967 and 1976, nearly 8 million Chinese youths were "sent down" for specialized training to the remotest corners of the country. Before being sent down, the young and beautiful Xiu Xiu dreams of becoming a horse trainer in the wide open plains of Tibet, far away from her busy city home. Her journey begins in a training camp in the isolated plains with a solitary and mysterious man. Slowly, Xiu Xiu discovers that she is unlikely to ever see her home again without a wealthy sponsor. Her world becomes a horrifying cage, where "patrons" promise her escape in exchange for her sexual compromise. This is one girl's story and a compassionate deed that inspired one special man and everyone who hears her tale.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This movie went in so many conflicting directions that I'm not sure how to feel about it. Okay, so the only man who doesn't ravage the young, innocent girl is a gelding; all the other "normal" men stand in line and take their turn with Xiu Xiu. Lao Jin, the gelding, is a strong, brave man (and ex-soldier) who falls in love with this spoiled, ambitious city girl, and he imagines that Xiu Xiu will want to stay with him herding horses in the open grasslands, but he does nothing to stop the parade of lusty bureaucratic wimps from entering his tent (although once he cooked a man's shoe in the fire). To confuse matters more, Xiu Xiu doesn't seem to mind the men's visits. I felt that Xiu Xiu missed the comforts of her city home more than she missed home itself. I also felt that Xiu Xiu might have slept her way up the ladder even if she had stayed in the city. She seemed to learn pretty quickly and easily about the power of her beauty - the only tragedy was that it was wasted on useless men. I could say more about the ending, but I don't want to give anything away. The scenery and the acting were great, which is why I give it three stars.
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By E. Laway on Nov. 11 2003
Format: DVD
The two stars go to the director and the actors. It's odd because you know you've just seen a well-acted, well told story but at the same time, it left you with a chasm, a kind of sadness that is inconsolable. And I am afraid there is no entertainment value in this. It is specially sad when you see the lead actress' face. She doesn't look a day over twelve, and I know she's older biologically because of the explicit nudity but still how sad that she indures all these horrors and yet she remained innocent to the end. The poor little girl just wanted to go home to the love and comfort of her family. It doesn't get any better with the Tibetan horseman who tried to be her protector. He is treated as badly by the chinese men and was as impotent about his role as big brother, father, admirer to this poor little girl. How sad, this movie was.
The DVD itself is not very good because it didn't have any extras at all. It would have been really helpful if there was a commentary by the director and perhaps a background on how the movie was made. It leaves one even saddier and emptier.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rob Larmer on July 1 2006
Format: DVD
I watched this movie on the independent film channel, one night because nothing else was on. I can tell you now that it probably would have won an oscar, had it been a Hollywood flick. It was very well acted, sad, powerful and dramatic. The scenery was beautiful and Joan Chen looks to have put a lot of work into the smaller details. Watch it if you are up for it because it is heart wrenchingly sad, but also beautiful in a way. I took of a star because despite being good it just lacked the level of class featured in many of the foreign films I have seen. Xiu Xiu is very good, and I recommend you give it a chance, but don't expect it to be A+ quality. However, it is worth owning, and overall a very good picture.

Grade: A-
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 44 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful but brutal film July 2 2002
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Joan Chen, who has had a modest career as an actress in American films and TV, makes her directorial debut here in this brutal, poignant and beautiful Mandarin language film. Starring Lu Lu as Xiu Xiu, a teenaged girl from the city sent to the country during Mao's cultural revolution, and Lopsang as Lao Jin, a castrated Tibetan nomad who is to teach her horse husbandry, Tian yu is not so much an indictment of communist China as it is an indictment of human nature. Xiu Xiu is brutalized by small-minded bureaucratic males as has happened throughout human history, be they communist or feudal, her innocence and youth traded for an apple, her buoyant hope for life dashed by blind political and economic forces, and her self-respect stolen from her by the twisted logic of rape and lust.

What elevates this story above what we have seen many times before is the striking beauty of the Tibetan countryside and the fine characterizations of both Xiu Xiu and Lao Jin. Lao Jin is a "gelding," made fun of by others, a man of quiet disposition who falls in love with his beautiful young charge, but stands aside because of his impotence. Xiu Xiu has an imperial nature natural to favored girls everywhere, be they Japanese "princesses" or American "valley girls," a nature very well depicted by the script and very well acted out by Lu Lu, whose delicate beauty and spicy temperament clash well with Lao Jin's Taoist stoicism. At one point he remarks wisely that "every place is the same," meaning of course that it is what we bring to the place that really matters. But his wisdom is completely lost on the teenaged girl who wants and needs society and all that it has to offer. And so, the underlying "love affair" between the two can never be...except...as it is in the end.

Lopsang's performance is entirely convincing and Lu Lu is fascinating to watch. Joan Chen did a fine job with both of them while managing to keep politics and political agendas in the background. She concentrated on the human tragedy and made it universal. Both of her central characters had flaws that in some way led to the great sadness that they experienced, and yet they were not to blame. In this naturalistic expression we are reminded of the tragedies of novelists Thomas Hardy and Theodore Dreiser; and of course Chen was influenced by the work of Chinese director Zhang Yimou, in particular his sad, but captivating Raise the Red Lantern (1991) in which a beautiful girl is consumed and brutalized by societal forces of a different nature.

This film misses being a masterpiece because of a hurried resolution leading to an ending that needed a bit more shaping. Nonetheless this is an arresting and compelling drama, beautifully filmed and sensitively directed. But be forewarned. "Celestial Bath" is a disturbing film not easily shaken from the mind.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful, haunting story July 12 2000
By Ed N - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Xiu Xiu: the Sent-Down Girl is Joan Chen's labour of love as well as her debut film as a director. It shows great promise and is probably one of the most beautiful films of the last decade. The cinematography reminds me of "Days of Heaven" or "Horse Whisperer" and was filmed in the beautiful and exotic Chinese countryside (albeit under the noses of the unaware Chinese government). The story is set during the Cultural Revolution around the time when city children were set into the countryside to better their education and make them more well-rounded citizens upon their return. Unfortunately, many of these children never did return for a variety of reasons. This story is about one such child, Xiu Xiu, who gets sent down to the countryside to learn the horse trade but becomes forgotten.
"Xiu Xiu" is a character-driven story, and a strong one at that. We learn much about the characters, their motivations and their desires. And we see somewhat indirectly some of the unfortunate consequences of the Cultural Revolution. Yet this is not at all a political story but rather a gentle and touching love story of sorts. I strongly recommend it for those seeking films of a more personal nature rather than the typical Hollywood blockbuster.
My only complaint about the DVD, for those wishing to buy it, is that it is quite a bare-bones DVD. True, the picture quality and sound quality are superb, but there are no extras included on the DVD at all. Nothing, zip. Not even a trailer or filmography. At the very least, Image Entertainment should have persuaded Joan Chen to do a commentary for this film, as it was such a personal endeavour for her. But alas, all we are given is the movie itself. The film itself gets a strong 5 stars, but the lack of anything at all on the DVD brings it down to 4 stars.
Nonetheless, the film is easily one of the best films released in 1999, and I highly recommend it!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Visually stunning, emotionally wrenching film Oct. 27 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie in the theaters, and I find it absolutely unforgettable. The Tibetan high plains suffuse the movie with incredible beauty, and the Tibetan lead actor, Lopsang, is so evocative that he actually expresses more when he is not talking. It is a beautiful movie of a time when China went crazy and extreme behavior became the norm. Equally beautiful is the story "Celestial Bath" on by Geling Yan, on which this is based. That story is in a book called *White Snake and Other Stories* by Geling Yan, also on amazon.com.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Painfully True March 30 2000
By Raymond A. Teo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This film offers a realistic insight into one of the worst atrocities committed by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution in China... how he (in the name of promoting the homogeneity of communism throughout the land with no humane regard to the aftermath caused by his selfish greed, so to sustain his own cult of personality; thus adding perversion to his then already defunct theories of communism) single-handedly wrecked and annihilated both physical and emotional lives of millions of Chinese youths by disrupting their education and dispatching them to the remotest regions to reconcile with and learn from the rural peasants the 'way to a true Communist life'.
This story tells of how a young and innocent girl , Xiu Xiu, was posted onto the said regime. Although she did apply for the posting herself, one must be aware that in those times, under the iron-grip propaganda of Mao, the Chinese population had basically no significant choices and were even discouraged to 'think & conceptualise' as that would be deemed as an insult to the 'perfection' of Mao's communist agenda. Back then, the poor Chinese people had to praise and be in alignment with Mao's theories with almost every breath of their controlled lives.
Xiu Xiu's family had neither political connections nor money to deliver her from her fate. We see a youthful and energetic girl following the regime dutifully and patriotically for a year until she was sent off to live with a mentor from whom she was suppose to learn the ropes of horse herding. Upon later discovery that she might be able to return home as certain governing structure had been dissolved, Xiu Xiu then pinned all hopes to that possibility.
The soul of Xiu Xiu deteriorates in front of the audience as she compromised her own body to despicable 'officials' who offered her the passage home. Contemplating that without their 'assistance', she would not only be stuck in the wilderness but also unable to get the formal documentation required to be a legitimate citizen at home, she gave in even to the most obvious of liars.
The finale sequence demonatrates an amalgamation of true love and emotional torment that is rare to both our current time and developed societies.
The actual fate of millions might had been worse than this representative portrayal. The story is not only an extremely touching epic, but also one of the most important films to have emerged from the Chinese cinematographic
history.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant work Jan. 14 2000
By Anna B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This directing debut for Joan Chen surpassed all of my expectations. Yes, the movie leaves you with a horrible feeling, it can make you loose your sleep even. But how could one expect a sweet relieving ending for a great movie portraying the brutalities of the 70s in a red China? There was no justice and future for someone like Xiu Xiu in those days. And softening the ugly images of her life would do an injustice to the millions of broken and lost women who were unfortunate to be born in the Socialist countries, often deprived of the basic human rights. History's grimaces can be truly disturbing and shocking to the majority of Americans reared on a happy-end tradition of the Hollywood. And Chen's faithfulness to her material, as well as great acting by Lu Lu and Lopsang, make this low-budget movie so compellingly, yet painfully, realistic.


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