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Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Actors: Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, Shinobu Terajima, Ken Nakamoto, Jiamin Li
Directors: Yasuo Furuhata, Yimou Zhang
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests
PG     2007     1hr 47min

Takada, a Japanese fisherman, has been estranged from his son for many years, but when the son is diagnosed with terminal cancer his daughter-in-law, Rie, summons him to the hospital. When his son refuses to see him, Rie g...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, Shinobu Terajima, Ken Nakamoto, Jiamin Li
Directors: Yasuo Furuhata, Yimou Zhang
Creators: Yimou Zhang, Jian Xiu, Weiping Zhang, William Kong, Bin Wang, Jingzhi Zou
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Health
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/06/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: Cantonese, Chinese, French, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese

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Member Movie Reviews

Al F. (Librarian2012)
Reviewed on 11/25/2012...
The relationship between father and son is special. The directors did an amazing job or portraying the story of two fathers that each have a dysfunctional relationship with their sons. The movie shown with sub-titles in English is spoken in the Japanese and Chinese languages. It starts where a son is ill and the father hears about it and decides after many years he will visit his son. When the father arrives for the visit the son refuses to see him. The father wants to build a good relationship with his son so he decides to complete a film his son was working on. As the father pursues the destiny of completing the film he encounters obstacles. The main star of the film has been imprisoned and the father must obtain permission to visit the star from the Japanese officials. Needless to say the relationship between officials and outsiders is strained. However the father is granted permission to visit the star yet when he is in place to complete the star singing on the film, the star is unable to sing. The star is unable to sing because of his broken heart due to his dysfunctional relationship with his son. There are many powerful scenes in this movie because it crosses and mixes the Japanese and Chinese cultures. The blending of the two cultures is evident in the film. It is definitely worthy your time to watch and be entertained and informed. Some of the most powerful scenes are when the fathers and sons meet.

Movie Reviews

Astonishing Chinese Journey of the Soul
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 01/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are a half dozen films that can change your life after one viewing. I felt this was such a masterpiece. A Japanese father who has learned to control his emotions discovers that his estranged son is dying of cancer. When he goes to the hospital room, the son won't let him stay. Yet the wife of the son is trying to reconcile father and son and lets it be known that the son adores classical Chinese opera.

Seeking a crack in which to connect emotionally with his son, the father then goes to China - where he does not speak the language - and seeks out a Chinese opera star so that he can film a production of "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles." Unfortunately, the opera star is now in jail, but that does not stop the father from trying to film the production in Chinese prison. The father's desperate struggle to do one last thing to connect with his son - a true act of love - transforms all who begin to come into contact with him...and in old age, the father learns the value of openness in emotions that had been so bottled up before.

Altogether, a wonderful film experience. Truly, I was shaken emotionally."
It starts with the first step
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 01/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A stony, serious man Takata has spent the last ten years of his life living and working in a small coastal town as a fisherman. Seemingly content, he lives a solitary life. However, Takata's quiet life is given a shock when his daughter-in-law calls him and informs him that his son is sick and in the hospital. Takata rushes to Tokyo to see his son whom he has not spoken to for over ten years after a falling out between the two. When he arrives at the hospital, Rie, his daughter-in-law, informs him that his son does not know that he was coming and his son who refuses to see him soon turns him away. Distraught, Rie gives Takata a video of traditional Chinese dancing that Kenichi filmed in Yunnan.

After he has returned home, Takata watches the video and learns of his son's, an arts professor at the University of Tokyo, love of Chinese Dancing. In the video Kenichi interviews a man named Li who is able to perform a difficult piece called "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles", but because he is sick he is unable to perform the piece that day, so he invites Kenichi to come watch him perform the piece the following year.

A short time later, Rie calls Takata and informs him that Kenichi has stomach cancer and that the disease is terminal. In order to become closer to his son Takata travels to China to film Li performing "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," but he soon learns that Li is imprisoned for stabbing a man. His translator Jasmine wants him to return home, but Takata is determined to film the piece. With the aid of Lingo, a nice fellow who speaks to Takata in a mixture of broken English and Chinese, Takata through some extreme measures is finally able to see Li perform, but Li is unable to perform because he wants to see his young son whose existence he has only known of for a short time. Although Jasmine and Lingo want him to go home and although Rie wants him to return as well, Takata is determined to fetch Li's son Yang Yang and bring him to Li in order for him to be able to film the performance. However, Takata, in the end, is able to gain much more than what he originally set out for.

Famous for his portrayals of gangsters and cowboys, the deadpan Takakura Ken strikes an opposing figure even at the age of seventy-four, stone silent throughout most of the film, most of Takakura's words are through internal dialogue through which he enlightens the audience on such topics as his own difficulties expressing emotion and the ways in which he is moved by the kindness of the Chinese people and the Chinese people's willingness to express emotion which is very unlike the Japanese. Takakura's character in fact has so much trouble expressing his emotions that he has to talk through a video camera to an official in order to get his feelings across. Takakura's glacially cool performance is truly able to move audience when cracks appear in his hard exterior. Moments such as when he smiles at Yang Yang or when his tears flow in the video truly tug at the heartstrings.

While Riding Along for Thousands of Miles might not be a hard hitting social commentary in the same vein as To Live, Not One Less, or the Story of Qiu Ju, it is still quite a good film especially for the fact that Zhang centers the film around Japanese characters in a time in which relations with Japan are at their worst in quite a number of years.
Touching Depiction of A Father's Love
Michael Lima | Fresno, California USA | 09/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Zhang Yimou's Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a brilliant portrayal of the love that a father has for his child. Zhang uses the character of Takata to fuel this portrayal. Takata has such a profound inability to communicate with his son that he uses his daughter-in-law as a de-facto "interpreter" between himself and his child. During these "interpretations", Takata discovers that his son had promised to film a Chinese opera singer playing his most famous role. As an attempt at reconciliation, Takata goes to China to finish this task for his son, who is dying of cancer. In going to China, Takata seems to face an insurmountable obstacle: a foreign country where a different language is spoken. However, in a clever twist, this obstacle actually turns out to be an advantage for Takata, because he is used to dealing in an environment where he is unable to converse with others. Takata uses the skills he's developed to compensate for his communication deficiencies in order to find the person his son wished to film. When that person displays some relationship challenges with his own son, Takata takes it on himself to establish a connection between the opera singer and his child. In doing so, Takata finally establishes a bridge between himself and his own son.

While the story itself is intriguing, it wouldn't work without amazing acting from all the cast (particularly Ken Takakura as Takata), stunning cinematography, and a lyrical script. All of these elements are present in Zhang's other films, like Hero and Curse of the Golden Flower. It's a clear measure of Zhang's talent that he is able to abandon the historic epic form of those other movies and instead utilize these elements to create an intimate, emotional portrait.

Some viewers may be reluctant to view Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles because all of the dialogue is in Chinese. However, the movie (like its protagonist) transcends language to movingly convey its core emotions. It's rare to find a moving portrayal of such basic emotions in any language, much less a portrayal that is also entertaining. For that reason alone, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a film that deserves a large audience."