Director: Zhou Nan, Zhang Chi, Tian Yusheng, Dong Yue, Rao Xiaozhi
Cast: Zhou Dongyu, Huang Xiaoming, Song Jia
Runtime: 2 hrs 1 min
Rating: PG (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 28 July 2022
Synopsis: Five independent but interconnected stories offering a sincere tribute to the “ordinary heroes” in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan – doctors, patients, volunteers, primary workers and ordinary people. From the perspective of these inspirational stories, the film conveys the ever-growing energy and warmth that spring brings.
Truth be told, it does feel a little late for this Mainland Chinese movie to be screened. Most countries have learnt to live with COVID-19, and here in Singapore, this writer is of the opinion that we are past the phase of feeling unsure of what the pandemic will bring about. And for us to watch a movie about the everyday people in Wuhan during the early stages of the outbreak, it does just feels that the filmmakers did not plan a timely release of the film.
And besides the many patriotic Chinese shows and drama series that people have seen, we have at least seen three big screen releases in the form of Wu Hao’s harrowing documentary 76 Days, Andrew Lau’s star studded Chinese Doctors and Xue Xiaolu’s heartwarming Embrace Again.
It sure doesn’t help that this latecomer feels very similar to Xue’s romance drama. Both titles feature interconnected stories about people affected by COVID-19, and both star Zhou Dongyu in adorable roles. Did the award winning actress get confused while filming on the sets of these two productions?
The five tales are in this feature movie are directed by Dong Yue, Rao Xiaozhi, Tian Yusheng, Zhang Chi, Zhou Nan. The first story sees a young man who moves to Shanghaito earn more money for he and his girlfriend’s (Zhou) future, much to her disapproval. When he returns to Wuhan, the virus has made its presence felt in the city and things are not looking good. Then we meet two migrant workers who have to sell face masks in Wuhan, and realising the gravity of the situation only when they are on site. You can expect this a melodrama overflowing with moral goodness and compassion as the protagonists are holding on to a commodity that was considered rare in the early days of the outbreak.
Next, we have a husband and wife, both healthcare workers, who only get to meet in their car each night where they try to get a few hours of sleep between shifts. The couple experience turmoil as they go through the guilt of not being able to save a fellow doctor and the anxiety of wondering what will happen to their son if they succumb to the virus. Elsewhere, the head of a neighbourhood committee has to manage the complaints from the residents who are getting increasingly irritated by a girl’s piano playing. When he contracts a fever, you can bet the community is going to come together and make things feel warm and fuzzy, making everyone forget about the prior arguments. In the most creative story, a boy’s vivid imagination allows him to battle the virus with his obsession with Nezha. Like the other tales, this one also deals with parent separation, as the kid is taken care of his busy father while his mother is on medical duty in Wuhan.
The 121 minute movie also stars Huang Xiaoming, Song Jia, Yin Fang and Wang Jingchun. The actors do a find job, but one can’t help feel that this is another propaganda vehicle to stir the emotions of China’s people. If it was released earlier when the world was still struggling to live with COVID-19, the effect would have been better.
(We have seen similar tales inspired by the everyday people affected by the pandemic, and this movie might have worked better if it was released when the world was still struggling to live with COVID-19)
Review by John Li