Friday, February 01, 2008

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, directed by Yimou Zhang

Bonnie has done it again - brought home another great foreign language DVD. Tonight we saw a film in Mandarin and Japanese, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, written and directed by Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang. Most of his other films, like Hero, are filled with action, but this new film is a quiet, gentle drama about fathers estranged from their sons.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles stars veteran Japanese actor Ken Takakura and has a small role for Japanese actress Shinobu Terajima. The rest of the cast are Chinese people the director enlisted from the Yunnan province. Most play characters much like themselves. I especially liked Jiang Wen as Jasmine, a translator, and Lin Qui as Lingo, a tour operator, who both show great patience dealing with their unusual Japanese tourist. Young Zhenbo Yang is great as Yang Yang, the prisoner's son.

The setting of the film is spectacular, as the characters venture into remote areas of the Yunnan province, which is at points barren and mountainous. I was reminded of the Badlands of South Dakota in some scenes. The roads seemed to run along steep cliffs without any railings. There are also shots on the coast of Japan and in Tokyo.

I do not want to give away the story, but I do want to recommend seeing the film and the special feature on the making of the film, which comes on the DVD. The title should be added to library foreign film collections.

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