Xiaogang Feng: Ji jie hao. 2007 (China)

Feng Xiaogang‘s ‘Ji jie hao‘ is set around the mid 20th century, during the dying years of the long drawn civil war in China fought between the forces loyal to the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang. To Feng’s credit the film does not follow a straightforward triumphalist narrative about Communist war heroes, but instead builds a complex tale of an individual (Captain Guzidi, played remarkably by Zhang Hanyu) who struggles for the posthumous recognition of the men in his company who laid down their lives on the battlefront. These were soldiers who were terrified and sometimes balked at the clear and present dangers before them – as would anyone – but they made the ultimate sacrifice and, as the only survivor from his company, Captain Guzidi strives long and hard to have their efforts recognized as a unique contribution to the war effort. Like great combat films, ‘Ji jie hao’ ceases to be war porn, and rises above to make a stellar comment on the inhumanity of all wars, and the immorality of taking away lives, in the guise of war. It is also a severe indictment of post-war society and government in China. Watch.

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