CAST: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Tong Dawei, Atsuro Watabe, Cao Kefan, Huang Tianyuan
“Flowers of War” is a movie that retells the story of the invasion of Nanjing, China’s Capital City in 1937, by the Japanese imperial army. As the army besieges the city, survivors are forced to flee, some are killed, and others stay at a shelter while some seek refuge at a cathedral.
John Miller (Christian Bale), an American mortician arrives the city to bury the priest of the cathedral which also served as a convent for young catholic girls. He is caught amidst the chaos and confusion. Shortly after his arrival, a group of thirteen young courtesans force their way into the convent determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls.
At first, Miller is less bothered about anyone. He is more concerned about drinking and trying to seduce one of the courtesans Yu Mo (Ni Ni). However, as the visits from the Japanese soldiers where they attempt a mass rape becomes more threatening, leaving all the Chinese soldiers killed, he poses as the convent’s priest in a bid to protect the girls and help the young women escape from china.
They all struggle to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army led by colonel Hasegawa (Atsuro Watabe). He invites the girls to perform at a celebration party for the Japanese but the subliminal message is not lost to them all.
In an act of sheer heroism, the seemingly desperate courtesans headed by Yu Mo, decide to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone. Although Miller initially opposes their self-sacrificing decision, he later assists in disguising them, using his skills as a mortician.
With nowhere to run or hide, fate brought together the most unlikely heroes to stand together and fight a common enemy.
“Flowers of War” is a historical story adapted from Yan Geling’s novel “Thirteen Flowers of Nanjing.”
Although complicated, it is a compelling story told that is bound to move one to tears. There is plenty of realistic drama to be found with an emphasis on emotional suffering. It leans heavily on sentiments and outrage, with endless scenes of girls weeping hysterically as they contemplate their fate, fight would-be rapists, nurse a dying soldier, or plan a group suicide.
The director makes use of rich cinematography and strong, deeply felt individual performances and scenes that are striking and masterful.
Although the plot and settings of the movie are good, the movie lacks subtlety as the director tries to depict the actual events that occur in every possible way. The scenes where the Japanese soldiers try to take advantage of young girls is bound to stir up different emotions as it portrayed the soldiers as wild and savage. The director does not spare viewers’ sensitivity as he pushes past limits which give the movie integrity.
Through treacherous surroundings and facing unimaginable evil, “The flowers of War” is an ultimately stirring human drama inspired by true life events. It succeeds in telling a significant and genuine story of hope, love and sacrifice in the face of a horrifying war.
The languages used are Mandarin, English and Japanese, with subtitles. It is rated 17 as it contains several scenes with violence and sex.
Filed Under: Movie Review