Director: Feng Xiao Gang
Cast: Zhang Hanyu
Based on the short story by Yang Jin Yuan, which is also inspired by a real event, it tells the story of how Platoon 9 is being wiped out by the enemy, and how its sole survivor, Cpt Gu Zidi tries to help its platoon regain the respect it deserves
A very sincere film. One must go in with the correct expectation. It is NOT exactly a film about numerous individuals within a platoon at war (i.e., do NOT expect to know too much IN DEPTH about the platoon mates). They die too early before you can get to know them well. Instead, it is more about an individual and you really get to know more about him at the second half.
-- The first half is recommended mainly for its realistic portrayal of war at close range, the bombs, the blood and the battle. With a big screen and powerful sound system, it does match those of Hollywood (e.g., Saving Private Ryan) or Korea (Taegukgi). However, given the amount of war films present audience have watched, it may be occasionally hard to remember or feel for every single victim in the beginning half because the audience knows too little about many of them.
PS: In other words, characterization do suffer slightly in this first half. One may even wonder at times whether most of the accolades for the film are only for its effects.
BUT BE PATIENT ...
-- The second half will soon touches with its soul, although some may feel that it is nearly a one man show. Indeed, the film has numerous VERY TOUCHING moments (not necessarily dramatic but down to earth). In particular, I like these 3 scenes
(i) the landmine scene
(ii) the talk between the two men outside the hospital ward
(iii) the tomb scene
There are several more but these 3 are very well executed
PS: Some may fault the slightly happy (should it be called that?!) ending but hey, it is inspired by a real event and a short story, so lets be forgiving
Recommended. Set the correct expectation and you will like it.
PS: The short story (in Chinese)