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Zhou Yu's Train

3.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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(Nov 23, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Twice a week, Zhou Yu (Gong Li, Farewell My Concubine), a beautiful artisan, takes the train to faraway Chongyang, where she indulges in a torrid affair with Chen Ching (Tony Leung Ka-Fai, The Lover), her poet-lover. United by their passion, he finds in Zhou the ultimate muse, while she believes Chen to be her ideal soul mate. But accompanying Zhou on her long, lonely train rides are two individuals who threaten to derail her romantic idyll: Zhang Qiang (Sun Honglei, The Road Home), a young doctor hopelessly obsessed with her, and Ziu (Li, in a dual role), a mysterious young woman who bares a striking resemblance to Zhou and seems to be following her every move. A passionate tale of onewoman's search for perfect love, ZHOU YU'S TRAIN is a sensual evocation of distance and time, reality and imagination, where the only thing that's truly real is what's in one's heart.

Every so often, the convoluted love story Zhou Yu's Train seems to stop in its tracks and succumb to rapture, gazing on the disarmingly beautiful face of actress Gong Li. A young painter named Zhou Yu (Gong Li, Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) falls headlong in love with a painfully shy poet, Chen Ching (Tony Leung Ka-Fai, The Lover). Twice a week she takes the train to his town to be with him, even though he's bewildered by her near-obsessive passion. On the train, a wise-cracking veterinarian (Sun Honglei) pursues Zhou Yu, but she resists his emotional directness. Zhou Yu's Train bounces back and forth, not only between these two romances but also in time, to confusing effect. But there's something compelling about Zhou Yu's need to love the version of her lover that she holds in her mind, and that sustains the movie through its muddled moments. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gong Li, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Zhixiong Li, Honglei Sun
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, 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:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00061I29E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,143 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zhou Yu's Train" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 12, 2004
Format: DVD
ZHOU YU'S TRAIN is another beautiful film from China, refreshingly romantic and intimate film giving us a break from the constant onslaught of the Chinese martial arts films that have so deeply influenced the movie market around the world. As directed by Zhou Sun this low-key tale concerns changes in the lives of three rather simple citizens of Northern China. The simplicity is gratifyingly successful.

Zhou Yu (played with exquisite subtlety by the magnificent Gong Li) is a working girl who is carrying on the family tradition of painting porcelain for exporters. Unassuming, she meets Chen Ching (Tony Leung) who is a poet afraid of his talent and self-deprecating to a fault. Zhou Yu hears the beauty in his work and falls in love with both the poetry and the poet. Chen Ching lives out in the country and Zhou Yu must take a train to enjoy her very frequent trysts.

Fate intervenes and on one of these train trips she encounters Zhang Qiang (Hanglei Sun), and affable handsome young Veterinarian who at first pursues her for her 'art' and is rebuffed by Zhou Yu, but the mustual initial physical attraction is undeniable. In time Zhou Yu seeks out the rather secretive Zhang Qiang in his country setting and the two begin a lusty affair. Zhou Yu is torn between the poet and the doctor. How the ultimate love triangle is resolved speaks to the age old questions of passion, art vs. science, and equivocation of the entangled heart.

The scenery of China is beautifully captured and the camera says much about the current social levels of living in China. The music is strangely completely Western when a bit of the old China music seems to be more appropriate to such an intimate tale.

But it is the luminous, multifaceted performances by Gong Li especially and Tony Leung and Hanglei Sun that bring a rich credibility to this small tale. Highly recommended. Grad Harp December 2004
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Format: DVD
ZHOU YU'S TRAIN is the type of film that may -- just may -- require repeat viewing in order to take in all the thia story has to offer: if you blink -- much like the effect of the quickly passing scenery out the window of any train -- you might miss something better explored, as the ending of this evenly-paced romance shows.

While one could hardly argue with the notion that there are parts of TRAIN that appear uneven and, at least, forced, the film still manages to deliver a perspective worth a single view: Zhou Yu falls in love with a poet she must take the train to see, but, aboard the train, she finds herself somewhat distracted by a veterinarian who insists -- despites her mild protests -- on pursuing her affections. As a result, TRAIN explores more than one budding relationship and can be confusing on more than one occasion. In fact, one could make the argument that what truly is transpiring here cannot be fully appreciated until the film's final few moments, and, even then, the viewer may be left with many unanswered questions. However, what is clear is Zhou's desire to seek the answers to questions of the various loves in her life (two men, friendship, art, etc.), and the narrative clearly appears to be a device through which an exploration of the female mind and heart is undertaken. Whether you reach a destination is entirely up to the viewr.

Of course, the best scenery is, indeed, Gong Li. If you're a fan of her work, then TRAIN is definitely for you.
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There seems to be much confusion about Gong Li's dual role. Ihope this clears up some of the confusion. My spin is totally different. First of all, there was never a bus wreck. Chinese culture thinks and write in beautiful metaphors, and although her character did take the bus trip, it did not crash. The crash is however, the only way to describe her coming back a different and more mature person. She was no longer "floating", but more confident and sure of what she did not want. Basically, she did not want either of the two men she was hoping to find herself with. The most beautiful scene in the whole film is the end. After years of being tied to the rails, riding trains to meet her lovers, they show a Jeep Cherokee driving along side the train, only to turn away in a dramatic split and liberation from the rails, and her past. She does visit the poet, only to tell him esentially, do not look for Zhou Yu in me. The little girl was gone. She no longer needed the fantasy of him in her life. She found her own way.
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Format: DVD
The story in Zhou Yu's Train is one about love and freedom. The first topic was taboo in China until only recently (the fact that this film has no female nudity attests to the strict sensorship, both cultural and political, in that country) and the second still forbidden with austere legal enforcement.

The film is a little confusing, especially in the first 30 minutes, due to the use of nonlinearity. It almost seems convoluted, but once you brave on, you'll figure out the story. I'll give a quick rundown of the plot.

Zhou Yu, played by the talented actress Gong Li, is a locally successful porcelain painter. One day, she meets a struggling shy poet called Chen Ching (Tony "The Lover" Leung) and they soon start seeing each other. Zhou is also pursued by a playboy-like veterinarian named Zhang Qiang, whom she meets twice on the train ride to her friend's town: the first time when Zhou and Zhang board the train together and he breaks one of her porcelain bowls, the second time they are introduced to each other by their common friend, the train conductor.

Now the story becomes easy to follow: Zhou wants Chen to commit, but Chen's self-doubt and struggling career propel him to escape from Zhou by going to Tibet. Zhou tries to find a second love in Zhang but simply cannot stop loving Chen. She goes off to look for Chen... well, I can't give the ending away!

The beginning is confusing also because Gong is cast in two roles: that of Zhou (longer, curly hair), and a secondary character called Xiu (short hair), who appears occasionally until the end, when her role becomes clear. In case you still don't get it, here's how it works (SPOILER ALERT!): Xiu is Chen's new girlfriend after Zhou's death in the bus accident.
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