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Quitting (2002)

Xiuling Chai , Fengsen Jia , Yang Zhang  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Xiuling Chai, Fengsen Jia, Hongshen Jia, Tong Wang, Shun Xing
  • Directors: Yang Zhang
  • Writers: Yang Zhang, Xin Huo
  • Producers: Peimin Zhang, Peter Loehr, Sam Duann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • 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: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000844M9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,012 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Quitting" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Witness the stunning true-life story of one man's journey to the brink of madness, and the family that refuses to let him go. In his critically-acclaimed, award-winning film, director Zhang Yang (Shower) casts the actual participants of the real-life events, right down to the mental asylum inmates who play themselves. In this true story of one man's battle against heroin addiction, Jia Hongsheng,playing himself, re-lives the most painful four years of his life, beginning with his rise to stardom on the Chinese film scene to his tumultuous descent into addiction and insanity, and his struggleback from the brink. In a film that ranges in tone from hard-boiled documentary to stylistic theatricality, Zhang Yang proves he is at the top of his game with this insightful, vivid, imaginative tale that is as real as the men and women who lived it.

This award-winning Chinese film is unlike any other you've seen: a true-life story that's enacted by the real-life participants but is not a documentary in any traditional sense. Not only did the young actor Jia Hongsheng (who rose to stardom in China, succumbed to heroin addiction, and alienated his family with erratic, schizoid behavior) agree to re-create this harrowing period in his life, but so did his family, as well as everyone else who appears in Quitting. His recovery is as compelling as his collapse; the efforts of his family to support his return to health are deeply moving. Director Zhang Yang (Shower) shifts styles without losing the forward momentum of this remarkable chronicle. Quitting was a sensation in China, where the struggle between traditional conformity and individual freedom grows increasingly tense, making this movie a striking social document as well as a gripping personal story. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
First, it is hard to believe that the characters in the film are the real people involved in this tale of a man's real-life struggle with heroin addiction. Zhang Yang has done an incredible job with the film's cinematography, often drawing back from the aesthetics of a televised production to portray the work in a theatrical stage setting. This technique is effective in reminding me that these actors are truly the people involved in this drama. Jia Hongsheng does an incredible job of playing a selfish, vain, obsessive man afflicted with the disease of addiction. It is easy to feel his pain, and to also relate to his emotional turbulences. He finds peace through music, and immerses himself in the Beatles while he is unable to communicate with his family and the outside world. Jia's parents and his sister do a great job supporting him in this film, most notably his father as he struggles with the realization of his own alcoholism. This movie is beautiful, poetically created and emotionally acted out. The glimpse that we have into a real family's struggles is both tragic and liberating, reminding me of my own family dysfunctions, and of the hope for recovery.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jia Hongsheng full of himself? February 23, 2005
Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but I wonder how much of a hand Jia Hongsheng had in developing the film. I mean, when a story is told casting the main character as himself, I would think he would be a heavy hand in writing, documenting, etc. and that would make it a little biased in his favor.

But, his family and friends also may have had a hand in getting the actual details about Hongsheng's life. I think the best view would have been told from Hongsheng's family and friends' perspectives. They saw his transformation and weren't so messed up on drugs that they remember everything.

As for Hongsheng being full of himself, the consistencies of the Jesus Christ pose make him appear as a martyr who sacrificed his life (metaphorically, of course, he's obviously still alive as he was cast as himself) for his family's happiness. Huh? Exactly.

The viewer sees him at his lowest points while still maintaining a superiority complex. He lies on the grass coming down from (during?) a high by himself and with his father, he contemplates life and has visions of dragons at his window, he celebrates his freedom on a bicycle all while outstretching his arms, his head cocked to one side.

It's fabulous that he's off of drugs now, but he's no hero. He went from a high point in his career in acting to his most vulnerable point while on drugs to come back somewhere in the middle.

This same device is used in Ted Demme's "Blow" where the audience empathizes with the main character who is shown as a flawed hero.

However, "Quitting" ("Zuotian") is a film that is recommended, mostly for its haunting soundtrack, superb acting, and landscapes. But, the best part is the feeling that one gets when what we presume to be the house of Jia Hongsheng is actually a stage setting for a play. It makes the viewer feel as if Hongsheng's life was merely a play told in many straining and difficult parts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling and Unusual Film About Addiction July 22, 2003
By Wendi
When actor Jia Hongsheng's parents found out that he was suffering from drug addiction, they retired early from their own acting careers and moved to Beijing to give him all their support and love. So begins this amazing film about a real life actor's struggle with heroin, the scorn he felt for the world around him, and the valiant efforts his family made to save him.
What makes this film even more compelling is the fact that everyone (parents, friends, and mental hospital patients included) plays themselves. It is apparent that some of these scenes (particularly the ones revealing Jia's rudeness and cruelty to his father) were painful for the cast to re-enact. Their courage in telling this story is what makes "Quitting" exceptional. The scene in which Jia's father painstakingly attempts to buy Jia a Beatles cassette tape, while never quite understanding the name of the band (and knowing that there will never be a word of thanks for his trouble), alone shows the incredible amount of love these parents had for their son.
Despite his family's loyalty and support, it becomes evident that the only one that can heal Jia is himself. The journey is one he takes alone, while in a mental hospital.
I recommend that everyone see this film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One clarification September 8, 2006
After reading earlier reviews, just want to clarify one thing. While most of the roles in the movie were played by the actual people, Hongsheng's sister is an exception.

Hongsheng's sister is actually performed by Tong Wang (Biandan, guniang), a professional actress. Hongsheng's real-life sister was the one who first found out Hongsheng's drug problem. She didn't inform their parents at first in a hope that Hongsheng would quit by himself soon. It was the pain that had hurt her so much that she did not want to recall any of those days. She didn't agree to act in the film. As a matter of fact, she still refuses to watch the movie.

Other movies starring Hongsheng Jia and available on DVD at Amazon include Suzhou River and Frozen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Quitting" is an audacious and unusual biopic from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yang. Documenting the real life turmoil, including heroine addiction and institutionalization, of a well known young actor named Jia Hongshen--"Quitting" casts Hongshen as himself. Also cast as themselves are his parents, various friends, doctors and even mental patients. Asked to recreate disturbing scenes from their difficult past, the actors portray different stages during which Hongshen initially succumbs to his troubles and then strives to rise above them. It can be a somewhat awkward device to cast people as themselves (unfortunately what comes to mind are the TV biopics of Joan Rivers and American Idol's Fantasia Barrino), but in this case the intimacy works well. It probably doesn't hurt, however, that the principals had prior acting experience. This film is a noble and creative attempt, and its unorthodox approach offers much to be admired from a technical standpoint.

Ultimately, though, I feel that the film always kept me at arm's length. It deals with emotional and confrontational issues and yet never fully engaged me in the drama. There was plenty of potential to be moved and drawn into the compelling family dynamic, but just as you get to those moments--the film backs away as if it doesn't want the viewer to get too close. I think part of this stems from the artificial nature of its construction. There are frequent and sporadic interviews that halt the story and offer biographical insight. These are purposefully theatrical, they keep reminding us that what we're seeing is just a dramatization. In another filmic technique, several times the camera pulls away from what is happening to reveal that all is being performed on a stage before an empty auditorium.
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