Chinese director Chen Kaige's long-awaited second feature, following the critically acclaimed YELLOW EARTH, was a somewhat uneven effort, hampered by a cliched narrative that fails to live up to the brilliance of the imagery.
Set in modern-day China, the film follows a single airborne unit as it undergoes a grueling training session in preparation for the prestigious parade in Beijing celebrating the 35th anniversary of the revolution. Led by a tough drill sergeant who is a veteran of a China-Vietnam conflict, the
undisciplined young men are slowly whipped into shape until they becomes a flawless unit capable of marching in perfect order.
In THE BIG PARADE director Kaige strives for something more than what some critics have called the "Chinese FULL METAL JACKET." The film illustrates the conflict between the group and the individual in today's China. This somewhat subversive theme may have been the reason Chinese officials
prevented the film's release for two years (it was filmed in 1985). Unfortunately, to Western eyes used to countless war films, the exploration of this theme may be a bit too banal. Although the characters and situations are standard basic training fare, Kaige filled his film with frequently
From the opening helicopter shot which shows miles and miles of troops training on the tarmac to the final slow-motion shots of various units, Kaige continually comes up with beautiful and fascinating images of men in motion. Most remarkable, however, is the sequence where the men are not in
motion--the arduous drill where the soldiers must stand still in the blazing sun. The wide-screen shimmers with the brutal heat, and the sweat pours from beneath the soldiers' helmets, presenting a brilliant, unforgettable image of individual human endurance and mass stupidity.
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: NR
- Review: Chinese director Chen Kaige's long-awaited second feature, following the critically acclaimed YELLOW EARTH, was a somewhat uneven effort, hampered by a cliched narrative that fails to live up to the brilliance of the imagery. Set in modern-day China, the… (more)