Saturday, May 26, 2012

Purple Sunset (2001)

Told in flashback this is literally the story of the last days of World War Two in China. Days before the end the Soviets enter the Pacific war and begin attacking Japanese outposts in China. One raid saves a Chinese man from a firing squad and it isn't long before he's heading back to the Soviet base. A wrong turn and the convoy he's in ends up in a Japanese camp. A battle ensues and the Chinese man and two Soviet soldiers end up fleeing into the wilderness where they come across two Japanese girls. From this point the film follows the trek across the open country to get to safety.

I have to start by saying that the battle scenes are absolutely terrible. While they do have a sense of scale they are ineptly done on the cheap so that human bombs that are suppose to be diving under tanks to blow them up are clearly seen to dive next to them. A sea battle is embarrassing just miniatures. If you can get past those then the rest of the movie is interesting, if not a bit preachy, look at the cost of war.

The majority of the film concerns itself with the dynamic of the various characters as they have to deal with survival, humanity and nationality on the road to safety. How the relationships change, ebb and flow, is the interesting thing here. It gives you food for thought. It asks the very real question of how it is that if people can get along when trying to survive why can't they get along at other times?

Its an atypical film in many respects, One of which is simply that this is the first time I've ever really seen the end of a war. The war ends and people are just left to figure out how to go on. I need to survive how do I do that? How do I get home? How do you react when you run into people who still want to fight?

I was enlightened.

While the weak war scenes wound the film the human story keeps you watching. This is, ultimately, a very good, but flawed anti-war film.

A word of warning. If you are looking to find a copy of this film in English be warned that as far as I know the current translations available are far from good. The import copy I watched was almost unwatchable and I've read a review of a different edition that was equally awful. The titles seems to be literal translations of the words jumbled about. The film is worth seeing, only wait for an official English language release, since the bad translation severely hurts any enjoyment of the film.

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