Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

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Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Wed Aug 10, 2005 3:41 pm

Director: Zhang Yi Mou
Cast: Ken Takakura, Shinobu Terajima, Kiichi Nakai, Li Jiamin, Qiu Lin, Yang Zhenbo

Ok ... the review won't be here till December ...
But hey, here is the poster ...

The Chinese title is "Qian Li Zou Dan Qi"
The English title is "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles"
The two Chinese lines (below the film title) read ...

"Without extending your arms, embracing is still possible ...
Under the sky/heaven (i.e., in this world), there must be true love ..."

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby kookook » Wed Aug 10, 2005 4:22 pm

can't think of something man...maybe later....

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:44 am

The press conference at Tokyo International Film Festival.

The Chinese news (not translation)
-- Apparently, the audience has very positive feedback

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:55 am

The Japanese website

The trailer

The teaser

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:18 am

I have NOT watched it.

But according to the website, the DVD has English subtitles.


Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Sun May 21, 2006 12:30 am

Director: Zhang Yi Mou
Cast: Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, Jiang Wen

The story follows a father into China to fulfill a wish of his dying son ...

My thoughts

-- wow ... i think it is well scripted and acted ... the performance by the ENTIRE cast is commendable ... the show depicts the relationship among people very well (be it between father and son, between friends, between strangers, etc) ...

it highlights the old's (and even the young's) non revelation of feelings (i.e., often we feel more than we show); it notes that people often role play, behind some kind of masks/facades; it depicts "imprisonment" and "reformation", etc ...

it relates loneliness (but also love), it deals with uncertainty and the unknown (but also some predictability of humanity), it deals with the harshness of life (but also the tenderness of mankind), finally, it hints at cross cultural similarity and harmony (amidst diversity) ...

in essence, the film has a lot of nuances, subtleties and parallels (although i think the director has decided to "explicitly" say out some of them so that mainstream audience can "see" the parallels immediately ... * slight pity *) ...

-- in terms of cinematography, i especially like those scenes where Ken is at the seaside ... wow ... watch for the "sunrays" (kind of obscure but definitely there ...)

also, the scenes at Japan are well framed and beautiful ... credits to the crew in Japan

so, go watch it on a BIG SCREEN!!!
once again, thnks to The PictureHouse

-- the film should captivate BOTH artsy and mainstream audience ... because it has BOTH tears and laughters ... (even though it is slightly on the artsy side)

the title "riding alone for thousands of miles" come from the story of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" and it relates how one would go all the way to help a friend ...

Highly recommended ...

PS: hurry international distriubutors, pick it up ...
* i am really not related to the film makers in anyway ...
ha ha ha *

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby A » Sun May 21, 2006 12:39 am

Finally a new film by Zhang Yimou. I thought he wanted to make another "martial-arts" film after the previous two, but maybe this will be next. I'm looking forward to watching it on the big screen as I have done with Hero and House of flying Daggers. But hopefully without dubbing this time.

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby wpqx » Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:34 am

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Certain international directors are on the fringes of popular entertainment. The few who's films have the capacity to reach the general audience who only occasionally glimpses a foreign film of their own free will. A few who's name can guarantee some audience and at least an American distributor. Almodovar is probably chief among these, but in the Asian world, few film makers have earned as much respect and esteem as China's Zhang Yimou, and quite deservingly so. Yimou won his reputation with a string of exciting, exotic, and powerful dramas that introduced much of the western world to their first taste of Chinese Cinema. Since then his abrasive social commentary has died down and his films have alternated between the grand operatic martial arts epics (Hero/House of Flying Daggers) to the more intimate contemporary dramas (The Road Home/Happy Times). Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is of the latter variety, which may be an apology to the people who found his last two martial arts films a little superficial. It also helps to explain why this internationally bankable filmmaker's new movie is only playing in one theater in all of Chicagoland.

Luckily for this reviewer, that theater (which was once a painful hour drive) now happens to be the closest one to me, and if the weather was nicer I could have walked if I wanted to. At times Riding Alone reaches depths of untold human emotion, and reminds us that before all the splendid choreography and action, that Yimou's films were known for their emotional appeal. I was reminded of To Live, which hits you so hard, you're convinced you've never seen suffering on screen portrayed quite so powerfully (and that's just in the first 10 minutes). Riding Alone doesn't beat its drama into you, it isn't overly deliberate (which occasionally To Live was). However there are twists and turns that seem rather predictable, but they're handled in a less obvious manner. The film, as the title would suggest is a journey, one without a clear destination, so therefore we don't really mind if we get taken on a bit of a detour.

The film isn't so much about one man's journey to connect with his son, as it is a celebration of China. Yimou may have gotten flack for being "international" and it seemed for a time (following the banning of To Live) that he may in fact spend the rest of his career in exile. However, Yimou has remained quite active in mainland China, and this film is a testament not only to the nation, but more importantly to the people that inhabit it. Its a rare breath of humanism in a cinematic world that seems overwrought with disassociation, and isolation. Yimou's China is one of beauty, community, and good will. This is a far cry from the China of Jia Zhang-Ke's films, and its not surprising, because these two men are at different stages of their lives and careers. Yimou had his rebellious stage, and seems to have settled in his ways, whereas Jia is still critical and doubtful, searching for truth. Yimou seems to have found his truth, and its a positive reaffirming truth. At times you may be slightly skeptical of his Capra-esque "everyone helps everyone out" type of attitude, but it is a deliberately positive affirmation, and one that celebrates the rural ideology of cooperation. Even in the most remote village, no one seems poor, and no one seems unhappy. When Yang Yang's (Yang Zhenbo) mother dies, it is the village that takes to raising the child, and all of them provide for him as well as make decisions regarding his well being. There really is no concept of possessions in this village.

The characters are unmotivated by money, and take to helping Gou-Ichi Takata (Ken Takakura) on his quest not out of friendship but out of compassion. As we progress through the story we realize that Takata's dying son Kenichi wasn't even all that close with these "friends" helping along Takata, they are simply doing this for him basically out of the kindness of their heart. The journey isn't necessarily important to the story. Takata decides to try and film a masked opera for his dying son that he never got to see. Well naturally it has to be made a little more complicated, so numerous obstacles are thrown in the way. If we take the film as a literal story, then we'd be bored out of our minds. However it is a film of discovery. Takata is learning about his son (who he had no contact with for nearly 10 years) and discovering a great many similarities to himself. Takata also sees himself, as well as his son in the paralleled relationship between Li Jiamin and his son Yang.

One of the things Kenichi loved about China wasn't just the opera's but the landscape of China. Early in the film we see a great many shots of the mountain ranges of mainland China, and we get a sense that Takata has a great appreciation for them. Therefore it isn't surprising to hear that most of Kenichi's time spent in China was simply gazing at the mountains. Takata gets a first hand look at them as he and Yang get lost wandering off. Yimou got his start as a cinematographer and this has remained obvious in all of his films as a director. His eye is for the visuals, not so much on continuity or rhythm. He takes his camera high above viewing the winding roads, and extreme long shots of the mountains and the great wilderness that is the heart of China. In a move paralleled in the Constant Gardener, he contrasts the rich orange and yellow colors of China to a sterile, pale, hospital like atmosphere of Japan. I think the contrast is unnecessary and demeaning (as I did to a far greater extent in Gardener). Luckily it isn't as blatant, and is only something that appears later in the film. The sun always seems to be shining in China, and even at night the moon is so bright it creates shadows. In Japan the sun always seems to buried behind clouds, whether it be in Tokyo, or even in Takata's seaside fishing home.

The film is flawed, and comes off as a slight disappointment coming from Yimou's 2004 releases. However its a different film, and you get a sense that he needed to make a smaller film like this that not only was a little more intimate, but also allowed him to deal with a contemporary China, just as the flawed but important Story of Qiu Ju did. Takakura gives a splendid understated performance in the film, and is always capable of letting us in on exactly how he's feeling without ever really being able to express it as a character. Sometimes his voice over narration helps to oversimplify already obvious moments, but you have to remember Yimou is a popular International filmmaker, so you can't blame him if he has a tendency to dumb it down on occasion.

Grade B

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby hengcs » Wed Sep 20, 2006 5:15 pm

I am glad that you gave it a chance at least

Re: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) (China)

Postby howardschumann(d) » Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:29 am


Directed by Zhang Yimou (2005)

Far removed from his politically and socially conscious films of the 90s that reflected the institutionalized oppression in early twentieth-century China, Zhang Yimou's latest efforts have ranged from martial-arts films that come to terms with the status quo to bland character studies of village life. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, an unconvincing drama about the emotional fallout from the lack of communication between a taciturn father and his seriously ill son, continues in the same lightweight vein. Although it is a well-crafted film, the best thing it has going for it is the wonderful performance of 70-year old veteran Yazuka actor Ken Takakura whose emotionless persona makes Clint Eastwood look like Robin Williams.

The story involves the estrangement (never explained) between Gou-ichi Takata and his son Ken-ichi (Kiichi Nakai) who is dying of Liver Cancer in a Tokyo hospital. After traveling from his fishing village to the hospital and being turned away by his son, Takata resolves to make a final gesture of reconciliation. He watches videotape given to him by his daughter Rie (Shinobu Teraima) that was filmed in the Chinese province of Yunnan where Kenichi had been gathering material for a research project on Chinese folk opera. Takata decides to travel to China to fulfill his son's thwarted goal - to film the opera singer Li Jiamin (Li Jiamin) singing a selection from the folk opera Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.

Battling a language barrier, Takata's trip to China is Lost in Translation redux, only with some unlikely characters showing the happy face of Communism. These include a prison warden with a soft heart toward his prisoners, robust, happy villagers in a remote area of rural China, and a bright, uninhibited eight-year old who is constantly tugging at our heartstrings. Takata, assisted by earnest interpreters Jasmine (Jiang Wen) and Lingo (Lin Qui), learns that the singer Li Jiamin is serving a prison term of three years and an appeal for filming in the prison means getting permission from high level ministers in the Chinese bureaucracy. Unlike the experiences of Qui Ji in an earlier Zhang film, however, the experience is not overly daunting for Takata who is singularly resolved to accomplish his goal.

After viewing a filmed message from Takata pleading for permission to film Li performing a song from the opera in prison, the Bureau Chief is moved and grants him permission. Unfortunately, when the filming is set, Li has too many unresolved emotional issues concerning his own son to allow him to continue and Takata resolves to find Yang Yang, Li's son, and bring him to his father in order to allow him to complete the filming. Ultimately the journey of Takata for his son turns out to be one of discovery for himself and, as he must rely on the good will and support of the people around him to achieve his purpose, he discovers his own ability to give and receive love. Riding Alone has a good message - that open and honest communication in a family is more important than being right but the message is undercut by a surfeit of schmaltz and plot contrivances and Yimou again fails to reach the magic of the earlier years.



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