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Happy Times

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Dec 03, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

From the director of "Raise the Red Lantern" and "The Road Home," HAPPY TIMES is a charming, heartwarming comedy about the complex dynamics of relationships and the hysterical complexities inherent in making them work. In an attempt to impress a portly divorcée that has caught his eye, an unemployed factory worker poses as the wealthy manager of a non-existent hotel. Hoping that his fabricated success will lead to holy matrimony, he instead finds himself the guardian of the woman's blind stepdaughter. Now, as the lies get more complicated and the deception more difficult to sustain, the sweetyoung blind girl and the crazy middle-aged man find themselves forming an emotional friendship thatis as touching as it is unlikely.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dong Jie, Zhao Benshan, Benshan Zhao, Jie Dong, Lifan Dong
  • Directors: Zhang Yimou, Yimou Zhang
  • Producers: Qinglong Yang, Weiping Zhang, Yu Zhao, Edward R. Pressman, Terrence Malick
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006RCL3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,124 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy Times" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
There was a time when I longed to see another Zhang Yimou film. His greatest films, "Raise the Red Lantern," "Shanghai Triad," "Ju-dou," and "Red Sorghum" are--without a doubt--some of the richest cinematic experiences--and I'll stress the word "experiences" that I've EVER had.

But something happened to Zhang Yimou, and his artistry--as perhaps one of the greatest directors of all time--waned. Was it perhaps because he lost his muse, Gong Li, star of "Shanghai Triad" and "Raise the Red Lantern"? Many professional reviewers speculate that Gong Li's departure is the cause for Yimou's artistic slump, but regardless of the cause, Yimou seems to be on the rise again with this film "Happy Times."

Zhao (Bensahn Zhao), an unemployed, middle-aged lonely factory worker longs for a wife. After being jilted 18 times, he decides to marry an unpleasant, domineering divorcee. While friends scoff at photographs of Zhao's large new fiancee, Zhao defends her rubenesque proportions by stating that the other 18 women left him because they were skinny, and as this fiancee is far from skinny, Zhao believes she will stay put and marry him.

Zhao, in order to impress the divorcee, brags that as the manager of the "Happy Times" hotel, he is fairly well-to-do. Problems develop when the divorcee contends that they need 50,000 yen in order to get married in style, and this is when Zhao starts to involve his friends in his relationship. Acting on the advice of his best friend (who also has no money), Zhao refurbishes an abandoned bus as a romantic retreat for lovers with the idea that the lovers will pay for their privacy.
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Format: DVD
I almost didn't rent this movie-because--quite simply--I thought the cover picture held promises of a silly little movie--good for maybe a few "chunky mama" jokes--boy was I wrong--this is one of the better movies I've seen recently. The movie does begin along the lines of what I expected-as Zhao creates his "Happy Times Hotel"-and there is a bit of humor--but once he begins his relationship with Ying--the story progresses into a dramatic touching relationship between the two outcasts--young blind Ying and middle aged, never married Zhao. Their relationship is not a romantic one--but a paternal one-with Zhao writing a fake letter to Ying from her father who abandoned her--among other things.

The ending is not the happy, feel good ending typical of American movies--which is probably one of the things that makes it stand out.

The movie is subtitled-which I have no problem with--but my wife doesn't normally like subtitled movies--but she loved this one. If you don't care for subtitles--give this one a try anyway--it's worth the little extra effort!
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By Howie on July 16, 2004
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
The only reason I watched this film was because Zhang Yimou directed it. That's the respect I have for him as a director in this industry. At first blush, I thought that "Happy Times" was going to be a shallow, corny type of movie. I couldn't have been more mistaken. While there are more light-hearted moments than in Yimou's other works, "Happy Times" gives glimpse into the lives of common Chinese people and a much more penetrating and uplifting look into the human heart and human spirit.

From the reviews you should already know that "Happy Times" is about an aging Chinese man trying to court a potential wife. He tries to persuade her by pretending to be something he is not - the general manager of a luxury hotel. But in the process he finds himself taking responsiblity for the woman's blind stepdaughter. How this all works out in the end is something you just have to see for yourself. Trust me, it is an exquisite Zhang Yimou finish.

I am not at all familiar with the actors but they were all wonderful. In particular, actress Dong Jie gives a heartbreakingly eloquent performance as the blind stepdaughter.
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