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120 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Movie
I will not be a reviewer that drops the whole story on you! I really don't like that, as I think any movie should be judged by the viewer. That being said, This is a movie you must see for yourself! The story does start with a bit of the American cliche on Christian Bale's character, however, after that the story is so very good.

This movie effectively...
Published on January 12, 2012 by J. Keating

versus
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Movie Rating
I agree with many of the previous reviews regarding this movie, in that it is beautifully shot and seems to quite accurately depict the 1937 invasion of Nanking. I would like to simply add that this movie is not for the faint of heart. The "R" rating is due to the extremely graphic violence you will see (i.e. killing, raping, suffering, etc). It left me feeling pretty...
Published on August 6, 2012 by Elizabeth Leonard


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120 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Movie, January 12, 2012
By 
J. Keating (Mt. Laurel, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
I will not be a reviewer that drops the whole story on you! I really don't like that, as I think any movie should be judged by the viewer. That being said, This is a movie you must see for yourself! The story does start with a bit of the American cliche on Christian Bale's character, however, after that the story is so very good.

This movie effectively embraces and conveys so many human virtues and flaws in a way I think so many could relate to, and it is beautifully told. This movie is brutal at times and yet delves into the deepest parts of our souls.

The story itself is narrated from the viewpoint of a young Chinese girl involved in what happened. Without giving anything away the set-up is an American mortician is summoned to a Cathedral in Nanking in 1937 (the Rape of Nanking) he poses as a priest in charge of a group of convent schoolgirls, a group of Chinese prostitutes arrive, then the Japanese. No one here is perfect, nor is anyone evil, they are human and behave as such. Some die, all squabble, all want out of the city, sacrifices are made.

The acting is flawless on all parts, the story beautifully told. I guarantee, there will not be a dry eye in the house at the end!

To see a movie this good is a rare gift, embrace it!

Easily, one of the best movies I've ever seen. If you're a fan of Kurosawa, it's up there with his directing.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atrocities of War, January 27, 2012
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
If you've read Iris Chang's non-fiction book "The Rape of Nanking" you have some idea of what horrors to expect. As we know, in 1937 the Japanese invaded China; after conquering Shanghai, they turned their attention to the capitol, Nanking. The result was the slaughter of over 200,000 people.

In this movie, based on the novel by Galing Yan ("Xiu Xiu, the Sent-Down Girl"), we have a fictionalized story in this chaotic setting. We are in a church compound where two groups seek shelter: the first, a dozen convent girls fleeing Japanese soldiers, and the second, a gaggle of "working girls" from a prominent brothel who throw their suitcases over the wall and demand sanctuary. A drunk but frightened Western mortician has come to prepare a priest for burial, and our story begins.....

These were the few actors I could pick out of the cast:
* Christian Bale ("The Dark Knight") is the mortician, boozy and rude; Bale seems to enjoy playing a crude American who laughs in the face of their predicament. He first puts on a priest's robe to avoid Japanese bullets, but by the time he has to bury some of their little group, he isn't quite so blithe.
* Paul Schneider ("Water for Elephants") in a cameo as another American fleeing the massacre, is incredulous that our hero is choosing to stay and try to help his charges escape the city.
* Ni Ni in her screen debut is the lovely self-appointed leader of the prostitutes. None of the women like the "big-nosed" Occidental, but a job is a job.
* Xinyi Zhang ("Love is not Blind") becomes, by default, the leader of the convent girls. She is observant, multi-lingual and expects her father to help them escape.

Instantly, the two groups of females clash: the convent girls are horrified to think that "those women" would dare sully a church, while the prostitutes see the girls as naÔve, over-indulged virgins. We see moments of heroism, experience anxiety when characters make foolish choices and hold our breath when the soldiers make their demands. This is 1937 Nanking, so expect gunfire, blood, rape, and lots of blowie uppie stuff.

Note: Because soldiers are always posted outside the church compound gates, all conversations are whispered, so unless your hearing is very, very good, wait for Amazon.com to release the DVD and see if it has closed captions.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy meets Beauty, July 11, 2012
This review is from: The Flowers of War [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I am a huge Christian Bale fan and have been before his mega Blockbusters and Academy Award. To put this out there now I would classify this as a Foreign Film with a great British Actor as the focal point. To be fair this is more of a survival movie than a war movie.It also has some intense scenes with violence directed at females so if that makes you squeamish, I would still recommend the movie, however turn away from said scenes.

This story does not try to overdo itself like many American Films that blow war movies out of proportion. It is not involved with an absurd love story, however hints at it. I cannot compare it to any movie I have seen because it is unlike any other I have viewed and really tugs at your heart strings. The musical score compliments the themes and atmosphere perfectly, with children's choir music to sad traditional Chinese music. The acting in this movie is great! Like many who see this movie, they probably will not identify any of the actors/actresses other than Christian Bale and everyone balances each other out perfectly. (Meaning it isn't one great actor surrounded by bad performances.) Character development in my opinion has the perfect amount. Not delving too far into one particular character, however leaving enough for you to feel connected with the individuals to "feel" for them as individuals.

I will not spoil this movie. I will tell you it is lengthy however it did not seem lengthy while watching it. (Sign of an enjoyable movie) For those who like a good survival movie, sprinkled with different forms of love, war themes, and change of heart stories, Definitely worth the watch!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the harsh critics, this fantastic film is a must see..., August 12, 2012
This review is from: The Flowers of War [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
What's it about?

Christian Bale finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

Is it any good?

When it comes to watching films, immediately my expectation changes upon hearing the cast and the director of a film. Therefore, using that logic I expected a film with Christian Bale by Yimou Zhang to be great...and I was not disappointed. The film is primarily shot in a church compound, so don't expect grand war scenes on the scale of `Hero'. Instead, we are treated to some top-notch acting and magnificent storytelling regarding one of the most awful periods of Chinese History. The film is startling in its unrelenting and unflinching accounts of brutality, and also beautiful in the courage displayed by the women with whom the film centres around. Considering the 146 minute run time, the pacing of the film does drag at points, but those who stick with it, should find themselves engrossed from its spectacular beginning, all the way through to its emotionally charged ending.

Best bit?

Although not a war film per se, the scenes which do feature battles are as realistic and intense as they come.

Did you know?

One challenging aspect in making the film, was what Zhang called the "very slow pace" of negotiation with the Chinese censorship authorities during the editing process.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maintaining Humanity in Time Of War, July 11, 2012
By 
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
The gruesome realities of the Japanese invasion and conquering of the city of Nanking, China in 1937 have been brought to the screen on a regular basis: In The Name of the Emperor form Christine Choi and Nancy Tang in 1998, Nanking form Bill Gutentag and Dan Sturman in 2007, City of Life and Death form Chuan Lee in 2009 and John Rabe from Florian Gallenburger in 2009, and now come THE FLOWERS OF WAR from Yimou Zhang in 2011. Though the story is based on facts, the various movie versions vary considerably on what really happened. THE FLOWERS OF WAR is based on Geling Yan's novel `13 Flowers of Nanjing,' the story gathers an improbable collection of people -- Bale's freelance American mortician, a group of convent schoolgirls and the women from a local brothel -- in the nominal refuge of a Catholic cathedral as the capital falls to Japan's Imperial Army. There are so many sidebar stories and characters introduced that the enormous impact the other films created is somewhat diluted here despite some quality direction from Yimou Zhang. As the LA Times critic stated, `The Flowers of War has broken new ground for China's movie industry: It's among the first domestically financed films to star a high-profile Hollywood actor (Christian Bale), and its reported budget of close to $100 million makes it the country's priciest production to date. But when it comes to storytelling, Zhang Yimou's 19th feature is decidedly backward-looking: A lavish period weepie set against the atrocities of the Nanking Massacre, "Flowers" abounds with well-worn movie archetypes and slathers on schmaltz.'

Briefly stated, in 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor. Innocence-vs. -experience is an undeniably strong theme. The girls' tender adolescence heightens its impact, especially given the historical facts. The Nanking Massacre is also known as the Rape of Nanking, and it's more than a figurative description: The Japanese invaders committed horrendous sexual assaults against the female population. In "Flowers," the girls' safety becomes the paramount concern of the survivors holed up in the cathedral.

Christian Bale seems to struggle with this character and his performance is not particularly convincing or moving. The aspect of this film that overcomes the over-production qualities (hiring Joshua Bell to provide a violin solo seems a bit much, etc) is the story itself, a bit of history that cannot be replayed often enough to again remind us how war alters man - and that survival, no matter the method, is the laudatory aspect of human caring. Grady Harp, July 12
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and harrowing tale of courage, March 11, 2014
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
I stumbled upon this movie and chose it because Bale was in it. He's a wonderful actor. The surprise was not only the excellent production values of a a difficult but historic event preceding WW II --the Rape of Nanking -- but that it was a Chinese made movie. Bale was the only one speaking in English, the rest of cast spoke in Chinese. (There are subtitles)The language, the Chinese POV lent a realistic feeling to the story. I can't say enough about the school girls -- actually middle schoolers in real life -- who portrayed the students seeking shelter from the Japanese in a cathedral. Kudos to Bale and to the young Chinese actor who played George. It has a R rating for a good reason, but this tale of women in one of ugliest events of the 20th century shows true courage indeed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cant help but think about it all the time..., March 30, 2014
I accidentally started to watch this movie before 5:00 pm. Now it's 9:30 pm, but still I cannot help but think about it.

Aside from the brutal fact of the Japanese atrocities, a lot of questions just keep rumbling in my head.
The focal point of the director, I guess, is not on the inhuman war crime the Japs committed yet still try to deny. (Seriously, you samurais still denying it even today? Commit it rather than admit it?)

What really keeps me awake is : Who we are? Where we from? Can we safely make judgement upon others? Can we make the correct decision when facing death?

Definitely A Must See.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Sometimes the truth is the last thing we need to hear", April 20, 2014
By 
Doug Park (Lexington, KY, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
THE FLOWERS of WAR is a disturbing yet touching film that truly captures the horrors of the Japanese occupation of Nanking, 1937. Long, graphically realistic scenes of war violence and carnage, as well as the numerous rapes which often ended in murder. Though the transformation in his character from totally selfish to completely selfless is a little sudden, Christian Bale gives a strong performance as John Miller. Virtually all of the Chinese ladies--both the courtesans and the Winchester Cathedral girls--are similarly well-portrayed. The beautifully peaceful singing by the choir girls provides a believable contrast to the horrors going on all around them. Special mention should also be given to Dawei Tong as Major Li.

While THE FLOWERS of WAR places no blankets over the brutality of this event, it also shows both sides of the Japanese coin. Even at their most barbaric, the marauding soldiers still come across as eminently human. Humans, of course, can be pretty terrible, but regardless, I know of very few western films that succeed so well in portraying the WWII-era Japanese as something other than just faceless, sinister, bestial monsters. The ending is unexpected, heart-rending, but similarly believable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Moment, Please, I need a Tissue, July 12, 2012
By 
Hannah Akio (Ypsilanti, MI, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Flowers of War (DVD)
Where some films choose Conrad's Heart of Darkness, some follow the darkness into light. This film demonstrates the ubiquitous human spirit to find the humanity in the inhumane. It is a story untold by the Japanese and impaled upon foreign debate by the Chinese. However, when we look at individual accounts and heroics, this film has taken flight in that wind. Symbolic uses of color in bleak cityscapes (as opposed to glorious landscapes) ravaged by war highlight the subtleness of true heroism in times of turmoil. How easily heroics can be lost! The viewer will want to believe in this story to the depth and capacity of the human soul. The cinematography and soundtrack align impeccably. Though Christian Bale's performance is sometimes a bit hokey, at times, the viewer must love the drunkard-turned hero, compassionate beyond the call of his loins for a lovely whore. The girls foiling the prostitutes allow for that grand forgiveness of imperfection. This allows for Bale's character "Father John" to redeem himself as the man who protects children, as opposed to the self-serving character of the drunkard mortician we are introduced to at the beginning of the movie. The plot is foreseen, but the emotional impact takes the viewer by surprise. Do not be without tissues at the completion of the movie. Those with compassionate and dreamy hearts, and especially those who have known sacrifice, will appreciate the care placed in this film. It is full of passion and pain, the kind of movie we should all strive to see made in Hollywood.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Movie Rating, August 6, 2012
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I agree with many of the previous reviews regarding this movie, in that it is beautifully shot and seems to quite accurately depict the 1937 invasion of Nanking. I would like to simply add that this movie is not for the faint of heart. The "R" rating is due to the extremely graphic violence you will see (i.e. killing, raping, suffering, etc). It left me feeling pretty shaken up.
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The Flowers of War [Blu-ray]
The Flowers of War [Blu-ray] by Yimou Zhang (Blu-ray - 2012)
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