Movie review: 'Beginning of the Great Revival'
The Chinese film is a bloated, boring enactment of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Liu Ye and Yang Kaihui star in "Beginning of the Great Revival." (China Lion Film / June 24, 2011)
A companion piece to the 2009 feature "The Founding of a Republic," "Great Revival" is in many ways the very definition of propaganda — it even ends with an image of a waving flag — but "Revival" is too harmlessly flabby to be taken quite that seriously.
A valiantly flawed effort at telling a long, complicated story somewhat succinctly, the film features on-screen titles throughout to introduce characters and dates and locations in an attempt to crib a shorthand of events for viewers not deeply schooled in the history of China between 1911 and 1921.
Directed by Han Sanping and Huang Jianxin (as was "Republic") from a screenplay by young writers Dong Zhe and Guo Junli, "Revival" is repeatedly bogged down by the filmmakers' desire/need to movie-ize the tale, make it more than just a dry retelling of historical events. Simply put, does the origin story of Chinese Communism really need a romantic subplot?
The scenes that actually seem to be about what the film purports to celebrate are often just a bunch of guys in a room talking passionately about how they envision the future of their country. In context it provides a certain amount of drama, but it's still more egg-heady than heroic.
A poster for "Great Revival" declares that the film's cast features more than 150 top stars, but even the undeniable power of actors such as Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau can't make the project better than respectfully dull.