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  Publicity Stills of
"Feet Unbound"
(Courtesy from The Picturehouse)

Genre: Drama/Documentary
Director: Ng Khee Jin
Cast: Elly Zhen Ying
RunTime: 1 hr 26 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.feetunbound.com

Opening Day: 17 April 2008 (Exclusively at The Picturehouse)


A young woman retraces the footsteps of China's female soldiers of The Long March and encounters untold stories of courage and hope in the face of extreme deprivation and brutality. This is the never-been-told story of the Chinese Red Army's teenage female soldiers of The Long March - a massive military retreat of over 200,000 troops on foot over 12,500 kilometres that lasted from 1934 to 1937. Only one per cent or 2,000 troops on the March were females. Most of them were teenagers fleeing poverty, cruelty and general discrimination against females. Some also had bound feet, a thousand-year-old tradition which was still a custom at the time.

Movie Review:

We are often so caught up with the hustle and bustle of things that we ignore the issues that are close to heart. While scurrying to get to work on time, rushing to meet deadlines and furiously comparing how much more your colleagues earn for doing so much less, have you stopped for a moment to reflect on your own identity? Have you stopped for a moment to wonder how people from the past have upheld their own individual characters to become who they are today? Have you stopped for a moment to realize how history has played a part in shaping today’s state of things, from both macro and micro perspectives?

This docu-drama directed by Singapore-born and Australia-based Ng Khee Jin scores high in sincerity because it infuses history and drama nicely into a warmly earnest work that shines in all aspects.

The 89-minute feature follows a Mainland Chinese 28 year-old reporter who goes on a journey tracing the route taken by the Fourth Front Army (later the Western Route Army), one of three groups whose movements comprised the Long March, the Chinese Red Army's legendary mobilization against the Nationalists during 1934-37. She learns about the minority of poor women who made the grueling trip with thousands of other male soldiers. She learns about the hardships faced by these women in the past, and understands how her modern life parallels that of the women.

The polished and smooth comparisons between the lives both past and present will touch the coldest of hearts. The resounding impact of how people led their lives in the past despite the hardships is both affective and effective, and may just make you reflect about your place in the big picture of things.

It helps that the protagonist is an engaging character, telling you stories that are charmingly interesting. As the Chinese girl talks to the camera in her surprisingly good English about how she changed her name to “Elly”, how she gets frustrated in her course of work pursuing objectivity, and how she is match-made in the most amusing manner, you smile as if you are listening to a friend whom you have not met in a long time.

Then there are interviewees. The old women featured talk about their stories freely as the camera zooms occasionally in on their wrinkles, their pride in overcoming the immense difficulties become more than evident. Their endurance and determination proves to be more than inspiring for today’s spoilt generation. In a nutshell, these ladies are the gems of this well-produced feature. You’d want to learn some life lessons from them.

Shot on location in Beijing, Jiangxi, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces, the route covered is an astounding 5000km by five main crew members in a creaky Mitsubishi Pajero. The result is a breathtaking docu-drama which features the scenic and picturesque landscapes of China which makes you appreciate nature the way it was meant to be. This synergy between nature and mankind has always been meant to be a part, not apart. Couple the sweeping countryside visuals with a heartbreaking string score composed by Kelly Tang and performed by the local T’ang Quartet, be prepared to see life in a totally more enlightening manner.

Movie Rating:

(An honest and genuine docu-drama which deserves a place in every film lover’s heart)

Review by John Li


. Riding Alone for Thousand of Miles (2005)

. Jesus Camp DVD (2006)

. The Last Communist DVD (2005)

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