Director: Huang Jianxin, Zheng Dasheng
Cast: Huang Xuan, Ni Ni, Wang Renjun, Liu Haoran, Shawn Dou, Han Dongjun, Zhang Songwen, Zu Feng, Wang Junkai, Victor Liu, Juck Zhang, Zhang Yunlong, Hu Xianxu, Eric Dane, Josh Whitehouse, Chen Kun , Li Cheng
Runtime: 2 hrs 18 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures and Clover FIlms
Opening Day: 1 July 2021
Synopsis: In 1921, Shanghai was overflowing with tension. Young people from all over the world, with an average age of only 28, broke through the monitoring and tracking of various international forces and gathered in Shanghai to create the Communist Party of China. From then on, a new chapter in Chinese history was born.
Movies from China are known to be emotionally stirring, regardless of whether they sing praises of the country’s past (The Founding of a Republic), or advocating a simple message of never giving up (Never Stop). The movies can also be something more relatable on a personal basis (Hi, Mom), or a series of shorts telling stories from the perspectives of everyday heroes (My People, My Country and its sequel My People, My Homeland).
So it is no surprise that we are given this movie co directed by Huang Jianxin and Zheng Dasheng, produced in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CCP). It is interesting to note that 10 years ago, Huang Jianxin co directed The Founding of a Party with Han Sanping to mark the 90th anniversary.
The movie is a historical drama which chronicles the events leading to the CCP in 1921. The story shines its spotlight on key characters who were involved in the revolution that marked an important milestone in Chinese history. This includes Li Da, Mao Zedong and Chen Duxiu. Familiar names like Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai also show up in the 138 minute movie.
Unless you are a Chinese national, it is not likely that you know the country’s history inside out. As such, you may be confused by the countless characters who appear throughout the film. These are probably people that the Chinese government deemed to have contributed significantly to the founding of the CCP. Nonetheless, the casual viewer will be able to be engaged throughout the show, as it features impressive production value and exciting action sequences (thanks to a massive budget, probably) and good acting from the ensemble cast.
One needs to be aware that this movie is not made like any other film – it is a propaganda piece that celebrates the history of one of the most influential countries in the world. Watching the movie is like viewing a history textbook on screen. This is the kind of film that sits nicely in a country’s national museum, where older folks can reminisce, younger people can be educated, and foreign visitors (i.e. tourists) can be mesmerised by a piece of history.
It is probably an honour for actors and actresses from Chinese showbiz movie to be involved in this project. Celebrities we recognise are Liu Haoran, Ni Ni, Chen Kun and Li Chen. There are also familiar faces like Huang Xuan, Wang Renjun, Zu Feng and Wang Junkai. Viewers who watch Chinese drama series should have no problem pointing out more names.
This is a movie that is emotionally stirring and makes you wonder what it is like to be part of a national movement that aims to make a difference for the betterment of the country’s people. It makes you appreciate what you have, and ponder about the amount of sacrifices that our forefathers have gone through for us to live comfortably today. This is in spite that most of us on this small island are not Chinese nationals. And this is a sign that the movie has succeeded in achieving its objectives.
(An emotionally stirring dramatisation of an important historical milestone from one of the world's most influential countries)
Review by John Li