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Top 10 Chinese film picks

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Top 10 Chinese

film picks

1. Spring in a Small Town (1948). Director Fei Mu (China). Often listed as one of the best Chinese films ever made, this film tells the story of Dai Liyan, family patriarch and invalid, and his wife who is emotionally torn between loyalty to her husband and a previous love.

2. Yellow Earth (1984). Director Chen Kaige (China). Considered the film to usher in China's Fifth Generation of filmmakers, this film is known for its stunning colour, composition and framing. The story is set in 1939 and focuses on a communist soldier's experiences with a peasant family as he seeks to collect folk songs.

3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Director Ang Lee (China/Hong Kong/ Taiwan/USA). Winner of more than 40 awards including an Academy Award for best foreign language film, this martial arts film based on the Crane Iron Pentalogy wowed audiences with its spectacular treetop fight scenes.

4. One Armed-Swordsman (1967). Director Chang Cheh (Hong Kong). A seminal martial arts classic that shaped the genre. Orphan Fang loses his arm in a fight at the Golden Sword School but a peasant girl nurses him back to health. He regains his fighting prowess using only one arm and returns to help his former master.

5. The Red Trilogy (Red Sorghum, 1987; Ju Dou, 1990; Raise the Red Lantern, 1991). Director Zhang Yimou (China). In these films, Zhang Yimou explores a visual imagery centred on the sexual power and spectacle of the female body. Red Sorghum follows the story of Jiu-er, a young woman sent to marry the leprous owner of a winery. She falls in love with one of his servants and when the master dies, inherits the business. Ju Dou is the story of a young woman sold to an old cloth dyer. She has an affair with her impotent husband's adopted nephew. This relationship and the child it produces results in the death of the lover and the burning of the mill. Raise the Red Lantern is the story of Songlian, a 19-year old woman who becomes the fourth concubine of a wealthy man in the 1920s. The competition between the concubines drives Songlian mad.

6. Two Stage Sisters (1964). Director Xie Jin (China). Released just prior to the Cultural Revolution (and then banned), this film tells the story of two female opera performers whose lives take very different paths during the tumultuous years between 1935-1950.

7. City of Sadness (1989). Director Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan). A complex family drama set in the context of the "White Terror" perpetrated by the Kuomingtang upon their arrival in Taiwan in 1945. It is the first film to directly address the 2.28 Incident of 1947 and the massacre of Taiwanese.

8. Yi Yi: A One and A Two (2000). Director Edward Yang (Taiwan). One of the best of New Wave Taiwanese cinema, this film follows the different perspectives of three generations of a middle-class Taipei family.

9. Chungking Express (1994). Director Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong). This film explores the isolation and casual encounters of modern urban relationships through two loosely connected love stories involving Cop 223 and Cop 663, both regulars at the Midnight Express takeaway.

10. Platform (2000). Director Jia Zhangke (China). A leading filmmaker of the China's 'Sixth Generation', Jia shot this film secretly while banned from filmmaking in China. The film tackles the social and cultural transformation of 1980s China by telling the story in comic fashion of the evolution of the Fenyang Peasant Culture Group into the All Star Rock and Breakdance Electronic Band.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2012 J11

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