LRC site's main page
 World Languages & Cultures
 Placement tests
 Language Tutors
 LRC rules & instructions
 LRC schedule
 Important SSU Links
 Online Dictionary
 Conjugator: SPN, FRE, ITL
 Accents and symbols
 Send us feedback
 Louissa Abdelghany
 Jon Aske
 Elizabeth Blood
 Michele Dávila
 Kristine Doll
 Anna Rocca
 Kenneth Reeds
 Fátima Serra
 Nicole Sherf

Sullivan Bldg. 117

Salem State University | Department of World Languages & Cultures | Language Resource Center

Chinese Language Films and Documentaries

Films and documentaries kept at the LRC are for viewing at the LRC exclusively. They may not normally be checked out. DVD's may be viewed at any of the computers.

Chinese-language feature films

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale Part I & II

Year: 2012 - Country: China - Language: Mandarin - Director: De Shen Wei - Genre: - Runtime: 185 minutes - Actors: Lin Ching-Tai, Umin Boya, Ando Masanobu, Vivian Hsu - Rating: NR - Format: DVD - Acquired: Oct 2013 "Produced by John Woo, In the mountains of Taiwan, two races clashed in defense of their faiths. One believed in rainbows, the other believed in the sun. Neither side realized they both believed in the same sky. Wei Te-Sheng's epic film WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW: SEEDIQ BALE retells an extraordinary episode from 20th-century history which is little-known, even in Taiwan. Between 1895 and 1945, a Japanese colony inhabited the island and subdued the aboriginal tribes who first settled the land. Seediq leader Mouna Rudo (Lin Ching-Tai) forged a coalition with other tribal leaders and plotted a rebellion against their Japanese colonial masters. The initial uprising took the Japanese by surprise, but they soon sent in their army to crush the rebellion, using aircraft and poison gas. The most expensive Taiwanese film ever made, WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW: SEEDIQ BALE is written and directed by Wei Te-Sheng, whose romantic comedy CAPE NO. 7 received numerous awards and accolades." (source)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Year: 2000 - Country: China - Language: Mandarin - Director: Ang Lee - Genre: - Runtime: 140 minutes - Actors: Chang Chen, Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Cheng Pei-Pei - Rating: PG - Format: DVD - Acquired: Oct 2011 "Hong Kong wuxia films, or martial arts fantasies, traditionally squeeze poor acting, slapstick humor, and silly story lines between elaborate fight scenes in which characters can literally fly. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has no shortage of breathtaking battles, but it also has the dramatic soul of a Greek tragedy and the sweep of an epic romance. This is the work of director Ang Lee, who fell in love with movies while watching wuxia films as a youngster and made Crouching Tiger as a tribute to the form. To elevate the genre above its B-movie roots and broaden its appeal, Lee did two important things. First, he assembled an all-star lineup of talent, joining the famous Asian actors Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh with the striking, charismatic newcomer Zhang Ziyi. Behind the scenes, Lee called upon cinematographer Peter Pau (The Killer, The Bride with White Hair) and legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo-ping, best known outside Asia for his work on The Matrix. Second, in adapting the story from a Chinese pulp-fiction novel written by Wang Du Lu, Lee focused not on the pursuit of a legendary sword known as "The Green Destiny," but instead on the struggles of his female leads against social obligation. In his hands, the requisite fight scenes become another means of expressing the individual spirits of his characters and their conflicts with society and each other. The filming required an immense effort from all involved. Chow and Yeoh had to learn to speak Mandarin, which Lee insisted on using instead of Cantonese to achieve a more classic, lyrical feel. The astonishing battles between Jen (Zhang) and Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh) on the rooftops and Jen and Li Mu Bai (Chow) atop the branches of bamboo trees required weeks of excruciating wire and harness work (which in turn required meticulous "digital wire removal"). But the result is a seamless blend of action, romance, and social commentary in a populist film that, like its young star Zhang, soars with balletic grace and dignity. --Eugene Wei"

The Blue Kite (1994)

Year: 1994 - Country: China - Language: Cantonese Director: Zhuangzhuang Tian - Genre: - Runtime: 140 minutes - Actors: Tian Yi, Wenyao Zhang, Xiaoman Chen, Liping Lü, Cunxin Pu - Rating: PG - Format: DVD - Acquired: Oct 2011

"A refined, strong-minded political drama, all the more telling for being so quiet. The director, Tian Zhuangzhuang, is just the kind of casual satirist that the Chinese authorities could do without; the movie met fierce official resistance during postproduction, and Tian has now been banned from further filming. Here, he smiles at a country awash with banners and slogans, and makes you realize that opposition comes not from more of the same but from the bemused responses of provincial people too busy with their own lives to be led astray. The story begins, in 1953, with the death of Stalin, and lasts until 1967; in that time, a young boy named Tietou grows up and goes through three fathers, each of them laid low by persecution. Tietou may be a pain to his long-suffering mother, but his misbehavior is just the first stirring of a rebellious spirit. The movie seems clean and steady, a corrective to the lushness and extravagance that, for better or worse, has come to be seen as the house style of Chinese cinema. In Mandarin. -Anthony Lane, Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker"

The Story of Qiu Ju (1993)

Year: 2006 - Country: China - Language: Cantonese Director: Yimou Zhang (Director) Genre: - Runtime: 100 minutes - Actors: Li Gong. Peiqi Liu - Rating: PG - Format: DVD - Acquired: November 2010

The kick is never shown, but the entire film is based around it. It's winter in the remote Shaanxi province. Pregnant Qiu Ju (Gong Li, 2046) is married to laidback farmer Qinglai (Liu Pei Qi). When village chief Wang (Lei Lao Sheng) kicks him during an argument, she sets out to ensure that her husband receives medical attention--and justice. Clad in a bulky jacket, face partially obscured by a thick scarf, the strong-willed woman, joined by sister-in-law Meizi (Yang Liu Chun), travels far and wide to find someone who can coerce Wang to apologize (she asked, he refused). All agree the chief was in the wrong, but each authority with whom she meets hands her off to another. Along the way, the couple is offered financial compensation (for medical care and lost wages), but an apology is as elusive as a dragonfly in December. Taking cues from both Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves), Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) presents modern-day China as a country where bureaucrats run the show and the citizens--especially the women--must suffer the consequences. Fortunately, some are more persistent than others, and The Story of Qiu Ju is far from tragic. Just as their fifth pairing represents one of Yimou's rare contemporary efforts, the dressed-down title character is also an anomaly for Li, his real-life love at the time. The risk paid off and the result is one of their most cherished collaborations. --Kathleen C. Fennessy, for

Not One Less (1999)

Year: 1999 - Country: China - Language: Director: Yimou Zhang - Genre: - Runtime: - Actors: Minzhi Wei, Huike Zhang Rating: G - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

Zhang Yimou's (Raise the Red Lantern) tale of a plucky adolescent substitute teacher in a rural Chinese village, cast entirely with nonactors and shot on location, is an astute example of censorship politics. Taking on touchy issues with a veneer of can-do spirit and happy-ending fantasy, his film is at once rousing and eye-opening. Wei Minzhi is a stubborn young woman who takes a substitute teaching job in a tiny provincial town because they can't afford anyone else. When one troublemaking boy heads off to the city to help support his starving family, it's not a sense of responsibility that drives her rescue mission, it's money: She won't receive her bonus if any students are missing. Her efforts to raise money for the city trip pulls the class together in a sense of purpose, and even drives the lessons, but when she finally reaches the city she's shocked to discover an urban jungle of lost and runaway kids. Yimou shoots with an easy naturalism that suggests a well-intentioned docudrama in spots, due to narrative contrivances and a few self-conscious performances, but his compromises ultimately make his shocking look at China's rural poverty, adolescent workers, urban juvenile homelessness, and woefully underfunded educational system more potent. In the heat of the film's uplifting climax, the once-mischievous boy pulls the film back down to earth with his reflection on his big-city adventure: "I had to beg for food. I'll never forget that." --Sean Axmaker (

Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Year: 1991 - Country: China - Language: Mandarin Chinese - Director: Yimou Zhang - Genre: - Runtime: 125 minutes - Actors: Li Gong, Jingwu Ma - Rating: PG - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou) directed this fascinating, visually formal 1991 film about an educated woman (Gong Li) who is sent off to become the newest wife of a feudal nobleman in 1920s China. Nearly isolated in his spooky, palatial home, she develops relationships with several of the other wives and slowly becomes aware of a hideous legacy of punishment toward more willful women. The film has a brittle and dry quality that is deliberate, but also suggestive of Zhang working through various explorations of his own style (which he resolved in his next film, The Story of Qiu Ju). Gong Li, one of the world's great actresses, is superb. --Tom Keogh (

Curse of the Golden Flower (2007)

Year: 2007 - Country: China - Language: Director: Yimou Zhang - Genre: - Runtime: 114 minutes - Actors: Yun-Fat Chow, Li Gong, Jay Chou, Ye Liu, Dahong Ni - Rating: - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

Curse of the Golden Flower, a fictionalized historical glimpse into the brutally complicated politics of Emperor Ping's (Chow Yun Fat) reign during the Tang Dynasty, shows the viewer just how far a megalomaniac must go to gain and retain power in medieval China. Lavish sets, massive ceremonial displays, and perversely fascinating battle scenes impress similarly to the special effects Americans have come to love and expect from Chinese action films like Zhang Yimou's previous House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. An intricate plot involving the Emperor's wife, Empress Phoenix (Gong Li) and their three sons, Crown Prince Xiang, Prince Jie, and Prince Cheng, most closely follows the Empress's secret plan to force abdication upon her corrupt husband as revenge for his slowly poisoning her with Black Fungus tea. Opening on the eve of the Chysanthemum Festival, 928 A.D., the Empress obsessively embroiders gold chysanthemums to adorn her army's uniforms while hatching plans with Jai to overthrow the Crown Prince for control of the throne. Meanwhile, a side plot develops as the Emperor's ex-wife and mother to Crown Prince Yu reemerges as Yu's lover. By the time the Festival occurs, family members are pitted against each other in a King Lear-ian web of lies that can only result in demise. The most sophisticated narrative aspect of Curse of the Golden Flower is that as the royal family crumbles, the Emperor's death grip on China remains unwavering. Gorgeous scenes set in the palace and costume design displaying China's upper class decadence cannot fail to entertain. The paradox between good and evil, here, is highlighted by how the Emperor successfully rules despite, and because of, his utter cruelty. --Trinie Dalton (

To Live (1994)

Year: 1994 - Country: China - Language: Chinese Director: Yimou Zhang - Genre: - Runtime: 125 minutes - Actors: You Ge, Li Gong, Ben Niu, Xiao Cong, Deng Fei - Rating: NR - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

One of the best films of 1994, To Live is a bold, energetic masterpiece from Zhang Yimou, the foremost director from China's influential "fifth generation" of filmmakers. Continuing his brilliant collaboration with China's best-known actress Gong Li (their previous films include Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern), Zhang weaves an ambitious tapestry of personal and political events, following the struggles of an impoverished husband and wife (Ge You, Gong Li) from their heyday in the 1940s to the hardships that accompanied the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. They raise two children amidst a Communist regime, surviving numerous setbacks and yet managing, somehow, to live. Both intimate and epic, Zhang's film encompasses the simplest and most profound realities of Chinese life during this controversial period, and for their honesty, Zhang and Gong Li faced a two-year ban on future collaborations. To Live is a testament to their art, transcending politics to celebrate the tenacity of ordinary people in the wake of turbulent history. --Jeff Shannon (

Hero (2002)

Year: 2002 - Country: China - Language: Cantonese - Director: Zhang Yimou - Genre: - Runtime: 99 minutes - Actors: Maggie Cheung, Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Chen Daoming, Donnie Yen - Rating: PG-13 - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

Director Zhang Yimou brings the sumptuous visual style of his previous films (Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) to the high-kicking kung fu genre. A nameless warrior (Jet Li, Romeo Must Die, Once Upon a Time in China) arrives at an emperor's palace with three weapons, each belonging to a famous assassin who had sworn to kill the emperor. As the nameless man spins out his story--and the emperor presents his own interpretation of what might really have happened--each episode is drenched in red, blue, white or another dominant color. Hero combines sweeping cinematography and superb performances from the cream of the Hong Kong cinema (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep, Comrades: Almost a Love Story; Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, In the Mood for Love, Hard Boiled; and Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The result is stunning, a dazzling action movie with an emotional richness that deepens with every step. --Bret Fetzer (

The Road Home (2001)

Year: 2001 - Country: China - Language: Mandarin Chinese, French Director: Yimou Zhang - Genre: - Runtime: 89 minutes - Actors: Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng, Yulian Zhao, Bin Li - Rating: G - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

At the start of the most recent film from Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, Ju Dou, Shanghai Triad), a young man returns to his native village after the death of his father, the village's schoolteacher, who died while trying to raise money for a new schoolhouse. His body is in a neighboring town; the young man's mother insists that it be brought back on foot, lest his spirit not find his way home. From this starting point, the young man recounts the tale of his parents' courtship, which involved a red banner, mushroom dumplings, a colorful barrette, and a broken bowl. The Road Home is beautifully filmed, particularly the luminous face of Zhang Ziyi (from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), whose performance is a heartrending portrait of hope and yearning. A simple but deeply emotional film. --Bret Fetzer (

Up to the top

Chinese-language documentaries

China: A Century of Revolution (Three Disc Set)

Year: 2007 - Country: China - Language: English - Director: Sue Williams - Genre: - Runtime: 360 minutes - Actors: Will Lyman - Rating: NR - Format: DVD - Acquired: Nov 2010

China: A Century of Revolution is a six-hour tour de force journey through the country's most tumultuous period. First televised on PBS, this award-winning documentary series presents an astonishingly candid view of a once-secret nation with rare archival footage, insightful historical commentary and stunning eyewitness accounts from citizens who struggled through China's most decisive century. China in Revolution charts the pivotal years from the birth of the new republic to the establishment of the PRC, through foreign invasions, civil war and a bloody battle for power between Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek. The Mao Years examines the turbulent era of Mao's attempts to forge a "new China" from the war-ravaged and exhausted nation. Born Under the Red Flag showcases China's unlikely transformation into an extraordinary hybrid of communist-centralized politics with an ever-expanding free market economy. Monumental in scope, China: A Century of Revolution is critical viewing for anyone interested in this increasingly powerful and globally influential country.

DISC ONE Part One: China in Revolution 1911-1949 (1989)
DISC TWO Part Two: The Mao Years 1949-1976 (1994)
DISC THREE Part Three: Born Under the Red Flag 1976-1997 (1997)

Up to the top

Salem State University | Department of World Languages & Cultures | Language Resource Center

Page URL:
Last updated: February 6, 2012