Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chen Xiaoman, Zhang Wenyao, Yi Tian, Lu Liping, Pu Quanxin, Li Xeujian, Guo Baochang
Written by: Xiao Mao
Directed by: Tian Zhuangzhuang
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
Running Time: 140
Date: 09/12/1993

The Blue Kite (1994)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

When the Mao Breaks

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Coming from China's Fifth Generation of filmmakers, Tian Zhuangzhuang just may outlast his better-known colleagues Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. Tian's The Horse Thief (1986) is one of the greatest films ever made, a beautiful and lyrical poem with a minimal plot about a guy who (surprise) steals horses. This movie, his second to find U.S. distribution, is far more grounded by politics but still contains hints of his free spirit. That the film was banned in China probably caused American reviewers to overpraise it a bit, but it's still a lovely and powerful film about a family stuck in turbulent times. Kino's DVD ($29.95) unfortunately does not rank with their best work -- it has some flutter and the subtitles are not optional. The only extra is a few text pages about the film's history.

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