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The Flowers of War(金陵十三釵)

✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

China, Hong Kong · 2011
Rated R · 2h 26m
Director Zhang Yimou
Starring Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Tong Dawei, Zhang Xin Yi
Genre Drama, History, War

A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

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What are critics saying?


Slant Magazine by Andrew Schenker

This film has too many weak, unconnected strands (what's the subplot about the narrator's father doing here anyway?), too much overtly expositional dialogue, and too unfocused a narrative to really cohere. And then there's that whole matter of expendable whores.


Time Out by David Fear

Zhang's mixture of unsparing violence, mawkish sentimentality and garish flourishes creates one uncomfortable aesthetic.


New York Daily News by Elizabeth Weitzman

The biggest problem, however, is the way Zhang romanticizes the unimaginably awful, turning gold-hearted prostitutes and virginal orphans into cinematic martyrs. Though his talents are vast, there may be too much truth in this particular story to suit his extravagant tastes.


Variety by Justin Chang

Scene by scene, The Flowers of War is an erratic and ungainly piece of storytelling, full of melodramatic twists and grotesque visual excesses (a bullet pierces first a stained-glass window and then a girl's neck), which are nonetheless delivered with startling conviction.


The New York Times by Mike Hale

Mr. Bale, turning in a respectable if oddly chipper performance under the circumstances, has the unfortunate task of playing a character who doesn't really add up.


New York Post by V.A. Musetto

Zhang Yimou, one of China's best-known filmmakers, deserves a great big lump of coal in his holiday stocking thanks to his ludicrous soap opera The Flowers of War.

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