45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2012
Dynamic actor Jackie Chan is working hard in trying to leave a firm and strong legacy in Chinese cinema and cinema in general. Perhaps he wants to demonstrate that his talents are not exclusively in martial arts films and comedies, but also in dramatic roles. And I'm happy to say that he successfully does that in "1911 Revolution," a formidable and epic film about one of China's defining moments in its tortured history. Historical movies just don't get better than this.
The film opens with the execution of Qiu Jin, in Shaoxing. She was a member of the Tongmenghui, a revolutionary council that wanted to end the imperial government. We are then taken to San Francisco, on April 26, 1911, when Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (Winston Chao) is speaking at a fundraiser to the Chinese community in that city, in order that money could be collected for the revolutionary army that was fighting the Qing Dynasty. It was thought, we learn, that "overseas Chinese people were the mothers of the revolution." Next, we see Huang Xing (Jackie Chan) commanding an attack on the governor's mansion, in the so-called Guangzhou uprising. Sadly, the uprising fails, but Huang Xing survives and continues the insurrection. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen remains in foreign countries trying to provide funds for the revolution and stop the support of the Qing Dynasty by foreign powers. From then on, we witness, step by step, the history of the revolution that ended feudalism in China and brought down the Qing, the final dynasty in the history of the republic.
"1911 Revolution" is magnificently full of historic information, which directors Jackie Chan and Li Zhang were able to condense in the film's 99 minutes. It is a true epic, with overpowering cinematography, astonishing production design and dramatic battle scenes. Joan Chen shines as Qing Empress Dowager (Longyu), who finally abdicated on February 12, 1912, ending 2,000 years of monarchy. And don't expect funny and martial arts scenes from Jackie Chan - well, there is one fighting scene, which I suspect was placed just for the hell of it. This is a serious role for Chan, who does it well. In addition, it is my understanding that this might be Chan's 100th film. The two-disc Blu-ray edition of the movie also includes deleted scenes, making-of feature, interview with actress Li Bing Bing, and more. (China, 2011, color, 99 min plus additional materials).
Reviewed on January 10, 2012 exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for Well Go USA Blu-ray.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2012
I'm a world history teacher, and I am going to China later this summer for a three-week vacation/adventure. I spent a lot of time in my class covering Chinese history, so it was only natural that I would watch this. I enjoyed it a lot - but mostly because I was familiar with the basics of the material it covered. Otherwise, I would have been totally lost. The plot concerns how Sun Yat Sen and his followers fight a lot of battles to defeat the corrupt Qing dynasty and establish a Chinese republic. There's a little more to it, but not much. This is not really a martial arts movie, nor a real drama, but a curious mix of those things and a documentary.
What you get is a lot of hagiography about Sun Yat-Sen, and a lot of battles. The film is most certainly propaganda for the current regime in China, even it is somewhat veiled. Many historical figures are introduced and then. . . they disappear from view. I suspect a Chinese viewer would probably get a lot more out of it than a western viewer. The whole thing is rushed. Very, very little back story is given about either Sun OR the decline of the Qing dynasty. A better screenplay would have given us 20-30 minutes of crucial backstory, and the remainder would have had a much greater impact.
Fun to watch, but not great cinema.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2012
Jackie Chan stars in the film made about Chinese revolution in 1911. During that time, Qing dynasty is ruling this vast country. Empress Dowager is not a strong ruler. Her political and economical misssteps lead country to financial dependence from strong european countries like England and Germany. China is borrowing money to build railways and its citizens are dying of hunger and poverty.
For anyone familiar with European history: French Revolution, Russian Revolution, etc. these events are recipe for disaster. Intellectuals and peasants alike ask for change and that entails getting rid of the feudal system and autocracy that lasted in China for over 2,000 years. Many young people rebel and start fighting on the streets in order to make a change. Their leader is Sun-Yat Sen, young medical doctor, living in exile (San Francisco) who is devoting his time to raising money and recruiting fighters to change China. It is important film because it reflects on the real events that happended in China nearly 100 years ago. What happened then made a foundation of China we know today.
There are too many characters in the film and peopl unfamiliar withthe names of Chinese provinces, may find movie confusing. Some of the subtitles explaining characters and events are in such samll print, it is next to impossible to read them without pausing a movie. In any case it is a spectacle and rematicised way of looking at one of the most important events in Chinese history.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
I just watched this on Netflix - well most of it - and was disappointed. I like historical movies and Jackie Chan but it was very difficult to keep up with this film, much less have an understanding of what was happening. It took me a few minutes to realize that the Chinese characters and English subtitles on the sides of the screen were to identify the participants, not the actors, mostly because I was trying to keep up with the dialogue subtitles. Then the screen started displaying more and more information - descriptions of the timeline and actions. Now, I am an avid reader and have a decent reading speed but I just could not keep up with three separate groups of text running simultaneously with the action. The acting seemed decent, the production values great but I felt like I should have read a book first. My memories of this time period in China from World History classes are 40+ years old. Finally turned it off.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2012
I had been looking for a good book covering Chinese history of the early 20th C, so this film caught my eye in the store. I hadn't heard of it, and can't vouch too much for verisimilitude, although it certainly looks as if a major effort was put into capturing the look and feel of the period, and to document the events (on screen, during the film). It was certainly entertaining, and I appreciated it being offered at 99 minutes, because it is an ARDUOUS FILM to process. The characters speak very fast, and talk a lot, so the subtitles go blazing past. You barely have time to see the words of one line, before another replaces it. Mercifully, the main subtitles are large and white, and easy to see against the many dark backgrounds, but their velocity is not for the headache-prone. In addition, all the characters are identified onscreen with very small Chinese and English printing, and the events transpiring are also given historical documentation (dates and explanatory text) in microprint above the main subtitles. It's like speedreading three books at once, while you are watching a movie. I have a home theater with a 10' screen, and I bought the Blu-ray, and those are the only reasons I could get through the film. Trying to watch this on a TV, even an HD TV, would be infuriating, I think. It was meant to be a theater experience, not a TV show.
I also detest chop-socky films, and this production is free of that for 98 minutes. I guess they couldn't resist putting in one ludicrously incongruent MA clown fight, the gravity and tone of the rest of the film only serving to exaggerate the inappropriateness of doing so. Imagine Kenneth Mars' Nazi character from The Producers in Schindler's List and you get the idea.
All in all, though, it is a handsomely mounted and high-minded look at a corner of history not many of us are likely to know very well. I good biography of Sun Yat-Sen would probably clarify things. My one real complaint with the serious history is that it is easy to lose track of which side you're watching during the battles. The movie moves quickly, and can be confusing. It also doesn't help that the foreigners are mostly poorly acted, cardboard characters, but they don't have much screen time.
I think the ridiculous paean to the Communist Party at the end of the film is probably just a thank you for filming in China, and no big deal. It might even be perceived as a veiled comment that the revolutionary ideals discussed at length in the film have not yet been realized.
Amplified in translation: the General orders his artillery officer to set the range for 2400 miles. Good cannon.
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
The run time for this movie is actually about 118 minutes, but the US Blu-Ray version is only 99 minutes. Why the heck is that? I was looking forward to this (especially for it's incredible run time, making it a true epic), but was let down by you guys at Amazon. Other than that, the movie was still good, but should have been 240 minutes, extending all the battle sequences in the movie
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2013
I teach World History to a bunch of sophomores and was looking for something to show them that had all the major people in the Revolution of 1911. This is a great time piece, acting is wonderful - even with subtitles, story line is quick and easy to follow along, and the action scenes are blended nicely to keep a 15 year old invested in the film.
34 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
I live in Albuquerque, and I drove to Denver to catch a screening of this movie. The trailers and promotions bill it as a Jackie Chan movie, but he really only has a supporting role. There's one brief fight scene, but otherwise it's heavy drama and lots of guns. And as I said, Jackie Chan is not the main, or even main supporting, actor in the movie. Several commenters said that it's only natural that there's less action since Jackie is older, and maybe that's true, but that's not my point. My point is that JC is on the screen less than half the time, but the movie has been promoted as though JC is the star. The film itself was well-produced, though many of the details were confusing because it's supposed to be a historical piece and I know very little about Chinese history. It also moves rapidly, making it difficult for a casual watcher to keep track of names, dates, places, etc.
One other item to note is that the film showed in Mandarin, and Jackie Chan did not dub his own voice. Well Go USA, the distributor, also included Mandarin as the only audio track when it released Shaolin, another recent Jackie Chan movie. I believe that this blu ray release will feature only Mandarin and not Cantonese. Well Go USA also edited out nearly a half hour from this version. Some commenters suggested that the Chinese government is responsible, but I don't really know. All I can say for sure is that this version is quite a bit shorter than the version I saw in the theater a few months ago.
Among JC's recent releases--Karate Kid, Little Big Solider, Shaolin, Shinjuku Incident--this is my least favorite, mostly because of how little JC it features. Armour of God 3 should be fun once it arrives later this year/early next year.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2012
Yet, it just does not all come together. I have seen several good Asian movies such as Brotherhood and Assembly. All of them at least have a flow to them. The dialogue is in normal speed & you can easily read all of the subtibles. This movie looks like whoever wrote it was on speed. The movie jumps around so quickly & the people speak & act way too fast. I could read about only 40% of the subtitles. The scenes are not really tied together, the written commentary is way too small & moves far to fast. The scene should be paused until one can read it. Frankly, this is the kind of thing that could have been avoided if the director had a close & honest friend watch the movie & suggest changes.
1911 feels like playing an old 33 record lp at 75 rpms. It simply does not work. It truly is a pity as IF more time were taken to develop the first 2/3 of the film, the action & dialogue were slowed down the film was about 20 minutes longer to tie scenes and events together, 1911 could have ended up a good film. Unfortunately, it just doesn't pan out.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2012
Historical epics have been a part of Chinese cinema for a long time, and now that Jackie Chan has grown just a tad too old to pull the insane stunts of his youth, it makes sense that his latest film, his first directorial effort since 1998's Who Am I?, is 1911, a historical drama about the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew China's last imperial dynasty. Released on the 100th anniversary of the revolution and marking Chan's 100th film, 1911 was unfortunately a failure here in the States, where it took home just over $135,000 at the box office is one of the worst films of Chan's career. The problem, is that the film relies too heavily on title cards to explain already convoluted plot points, rendering the proceedings more akin to a history lesson than a piece of entertainment. If you aren't already familiar with the story taking place, you may find 1911 tedious, overlong, and dry, three words you'd never have thought to associate with a Jackie Chan movie.