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Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

4.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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(Oct 26, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

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.

Special Features


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: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00001O2GH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,342 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 2, 2002
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 it is in the end.
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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!
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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
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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.
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