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Review: The Flowers of War

Unimpressive outing from Zhang Yimou
By PETER KEOUGH  |  January 17, 2012
2.0 2.0 Stars

In 1937 the invading Imperial Japanese Army killed and raped thousands of people in the Chinese city of Nanjing. The atrocity has recently inspired two Chinese films, including Lu Chuan's City of Life andDeath and this unimpressive outing from Zhang Yimou. As in Raise the Red Lantern, Zhang delights in architecture, in this case a cathedral marked off limits to the troops and a refuge to a group of floozies, a bevy of schoolgirls, and John (Christian Bale), a raffish American mortician. It's only a matter of time (more than two hours) before the Japanese encroach on this restricted space and John, nudged perhaps by the dead priest's collar he puts on, finds something to believe in besides survival, booze, and money. With some lovely slow-motion shots of bullets piercing stained glass, Zhang practices the mortician's art himself, prettifying something awful.

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