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Red River Valley
Red River Valley
Actors: Jing Ning, Bing Shao, Zhen Ying, Paul Kersey, Nicholas Love
Director: Xiaoning Feng
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
UR     2003     1hr 55min

Feng Xiaoning delves into the rich history of China and Tibet in this vigorous, coming-of-age epic set during the 1905 British occupation of Tibet and eventual control of the country by China. A young woman finds new life ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jing Ning, Bing Shao, Zhen Ying, Paul Kersey, Nicholas Love
Director: Xiaoning Feng
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Military & War
Studio: Facets
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/16/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Cantonese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Don't get discouraged by those 'historian' reviewers - an ab
X. Fang | New York, NY, USA | 08/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I doubt that the earlier two hasty reviewers know much, if at all, about the history of Tibet, or the non-fictional anti-british war in 1904. Worse, citing Chinese communist government "propaganda", or mentioning any event (or not) that followed this episode in Tibetan history, in order to discredit this movie is ridiculous, well if said gently, too hasty. ;)

The war itself had no involvment by any Chinese government: the then-corrupted late Ching government, puppy dog to the Brits, decide that Tibet was too remote to worry about and the Tibetans too insignificant to for military aids. The Chinese communist party, less its government, of course did not even remotely exist back then!! The movie's thesis is about the Tibtan spirit, through a fearless resistance against foreign interference in her freedom and survival, a fight for the reservation of her faith, tradition and very integrity. Either be against the British invasion, or the dealing with the challenging migrating lifestyle and ideas that the Han Chinese or other individuals brought in (the Tiabetans in the movie adopted a Han girl and took in some Han hunters, who became part of the Tibetan community to defend her freedom). It is a movie portraiting the Tibetan spirit in execution by her people (along with the 'outsiders' who came to embrace her spirit), and an epic story of soverignty and love. While there are undeniable traces of Chinese drama in the acting (e.g., the glamourized and dramatized heroism in dying for faith, freedom, and romance), does it differ much from those made in Hollywood?

The movie was a collaboration by Chinese (Han and Tibetan), American and English cast and crew. About the story of the movie - a group of British scientists (including an independent American scholar) firstly entered the South Tibet in a friendly fashion, well treated by the locals. Years later the British blokes took on leadership position in the Biritsh military in its plot to colonize Tibet. During the combats, a small group of Han migrant fought along with villagers and monks, to death. Resoting to single-charge hunting riffles and other primitive arms, rocks, human bodies as defense methods, nearby aids continued to arrive. In the end the British army was, to its great dismay, frustrated to a retreat. It was a war won by a free people, not any government.

If you feel compelled to explore the history of the period the move is set on, do so with an open mind, but AFTER the movie as not to ruin it. I first saw this movie in 1997 in China shortly after its release with a couple of Chinese professors who helped put perspectives of the history on that war I then became facinated by the storyline and the amszing culture and landscape. This is also a reason why I'm disenchanted, if not surprised, by the previous two reader reviews: so heavy on the politics, not at all about the humans and other living substances in it! :) For years after that I looked for this movie in the U.S. and strangely enough in a time where you can find all kinds of Chinese movies (including hybrid garbage), such a box-office hit in China could not be found in the US market after a half decade. Why...Politics? Perhaps, but on what basis and what level? Maybe it was merely not liked by the average American critic, who is so self-conceitedly decided against any media made by a non-Tibetan Chinese person, and who switches himself off instantly upon seeing such subjects as if Avian Flu. It's politically incorrect for the avarage American critic not to smack the "Chinese" perspective on Tibet. As a viewer, I believe we perhaps should just open our eyes first while acknowledging we are not historians, or political critics, imagine if we are watching a movie like "the Ants" (which by its entirety twisted science! but so what, the morale is cute, and the production is superb to justify for a great movie!).

The two intertwined romantic relations in the movie also fit the bill for an excellent depiction for the universal struggles for freedom, conscience, dignity and love beyond barriers of religion, ethinicity and culture. The peace-loving but timid American young man fell in love with the free-spirited and fearless Princess of the county (a side note: Jing Ning and Nicholas Love were later married and now live in California with two children); A adolescent Han girl who was separated from her family and brought in by the Yellow River (too dramatic to be true) and later adopted by a Tibetan family, through a period of uneasy struggles to accept and respect the Tibetan spirituality and tradition, grown to embrace the uninhibited Tibetan womanhood and love from a Tibetan young man.

The scenery is, for lack of better words, breathtaking (when I visited the area where the war took place and the movie was shot, it was beyond human speech), a reason why I give this otherwise 3 star (on acting) movie, a 4 star rating. The camerography was excellent! THe highlight is the Yamdrok-tso (aka the heavenly lake) where the Han girl takes her forbidden bath. Its water is truly turqouise in color; there is a huge inner island totally sorrounded by water, and two mountain passes (5000 meters above sea level) where the lovers frolick in the movie. For those who are first-timers to Tibet, this area (and Mt Everest base camp) is a must! Watch this movie before your visit to Tibet. Today there stands a monument for the triumph over the Brith in the little town close to Xingatze.

The quality of the English subtitle, as with my over-all experience with Asian movies is, kind of disappointing; often words, even sentences are skipped entirely. Therefore it's useless to ponder on a few words that you can't make sense of.

After all, it really matters less that you the viewer know little about Tibet's history, or miss many lines because you don't understand Chinese. But it really matters, negatively, if you allow yourself to dwell on the popular average American's indiscriminate anti-communist whines. You would become too heavily tinted to enjoy this movie, even its scenery, or the super hot princess and brawny hunk! ;p

Politics is a fool's favorite, and history exists without giving a flying feather to the claims made today by America, China, Tibet, or Dalai Lama. If all else is superficial or even bogus, there is one substance promoted by the movie, that is all REAL, that the fight for liberty, dignity, loyalty and love, once and always, is the enternal thems of Tibet, and of the human race. That's a theme to celebrate and a reason to be moved by this movie. I know I was.

Conflict between East and West
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 08/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This Chinese movie is not well known but is fascinating just for the fact that it adopts a pro-Tibetan stance when, in fact, the
Chinese communists have later terrorized the Tibetan Buddhists.
Filmed as an epic, it depicts the conflict between English capitalism with its weapon superiority against the faith of the Tibetan Buddhist people during the British invasion of Tibet in 1904. The outstanding photography alone makes the film worthwhile"