SYNOPSIS: Beginning Of The Great Revival is set in the period between 1911, from the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution in China, and the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921. During the early 20th century, China was marked by political disunity, and a handful of individuals, including Mao Zedong, Li Dazhao and Zhou Enlai, envisioned a unified China. After World War I, the Western Allies gave Tsingtao and Kiaochow Bay to the Empire of Japan, stirring sentiments amongst China's youth which led to the May Fourth Movement. In March 1920, Grigori Voitinsky came to China in an attempt to spread communism to the Far East, and on 22 July 1921, thirteen representatives from throughout China met up at Shanghai's women's dormitory in what would be the beginning of the party.


So we heard that the Mainland Chinese government had gone all out to have as many people as possible to watch this film, one that was conceived as a tribute to the 90thanniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – and we wonder, why didn’t it get a theatrical release here in Singapore? After all, it’s got all the necessary ingredients to draw crowds: A stellar lineup of the who’s who in the entertainment industry, a series of expensive scenes involving lots of pyrotechnics and manpower, and, err, a story plot which speaks to the Chinese patriotism in all of us?

A companion piece to 2009’s The Founding of a Republic (which also did not get a theatrical release here), this 120 minute production is one that will interest true fans of Chinese history, and to a certain extent, those who enjoy ensemble pieces and spotting cameos by familiar faces in movies.

To put it simply, the film directed by Han San Ping and Huang Jian XIn chronicles the period of the Chinese Revolution beginning in 1911 and follows the rise of the Communist Party and its leader, a certain dude named Mao Tse Tung. Played wonderfully by Chinese actor Liu Ye (City of Life and Death, A Beautiful Life), Mao’s story to power may not be the most accurate history lesson to the uninitiated, because of its obvious propaganda message. While we are no history experts to tell you what really happened in the past, we can tell from the number of criticisms found online that this propaganda vehicle isn’t exactly popular amongst truth seekers.

However, one cannot deny the fact that this is one star gazing experience that should do enough to keep the average cinema goer adequately entertained for two hours, While one may feel that the plot development isn’t exactly the most engaging (it’s history, after all), the appearances of well kinown Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwan stars should keep viewers fairly happy. One would have a field day identifying Chang Chen, Chow Yun Fat, Fan Bing Bing, John Woo, Aloys Chen, Zhan Hanyu, Daniel Wu and Chen Dao Ming.

Did we mention we also spotted Zhou Xun, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Wang Lee Hom, Nick Cheung, Simon Yam, Michelle Ye, Myolie Wu and a certain Mediacorp artiste Qi Yu Wu (the good looking hunk is credited as a Singaporean, surprisingly in the rolling credits)?

Yes, to the common folk, this movie is nothing more than a parade of celebrities. And the filmmakers can’t blame us for that, simply because we aren’t born in Mainland China, and the republic’s history isn’t of much relevance to us, who have more troubling issues like flash floods and train breakdowns at hand.   


The Code 3 DVD contains a few short clips where you see how things seem to be all cordial and happy behind the cameras in the two minute segments Director Han San Ping Filming Highlights and Director Huang Jian Xin Filming Highlights, a more extensive 11 minute Behind the Scenes (you get to see how the two directors communicated with each other at different locations), as well as the obligatory Photo Gallery.


The movie’s decent visual transfer is complemented by the film’s original Mandarin soundtrack.



Review by John Li