Friday, 23 March 2012

Jackie Chan 1911 Revolution reviewed

A nationalistic biopic of Sun Yat-sen (Winston Chao), who has been said to be the founder of modern China, after overthrowing the corrupt Qing dynasty and setting up the republic in 1911, and his top military commander, Huang Xing (Jackie Chan).

1911 Revolution is a conventional propagandistic film reminiscent of the wide eyed Soviet era films exalting the “achievements” and the “virtues” of the Revolution, or the North Korean propaganda machine, where everybody speak, or rather, declaims like in the history books, wide eyed, standing stiff, looking at a bright future, usually symbolized by the rising sun over the horizon, or a similar visual cliché, the camera filming them from below.  A bad history lesson, without the usual Jackie Chan humour or his antics, the last scene clearly indicating the attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to cast itself as the true heirs of Sun Yat-sen's legacy.

Some of its themes were brilliantly treated by Bertolucci's The Last Emperor of China. None of the subtlety and depth of analysis and characterization of Bertolucci's film is found in Jackie Chan 1911 Revolution, being no more than a Stalinist cult to a a significant historical figure portrayed as a one dimensional cartoon-like hero.

Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution deserve a serious cinematic treatment, this one is not.

Jackie Chan 1911 Revolution is on sale now in Britain in DVD and Blu-ray formats, distributed by Cine-Asia.

Action legend, Jackie Chan, commands the screen as Huang Xing: the fearless resistance leader and military genius, who opposed a 20,000-strong Imperial Army during the 1908 Guang Xi Uprising with only 200 men! Now, as military commander to legendary revolutionary leader, Sun Yat-sen, he will lead an impoverished and vastly outnumbered rebel army against the Emperor’s elite Royal Forces in a battle that will change the course of history!