The Bird People in China (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Fantasy Comedy, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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One of Japan's hottest young directors, Takashi Miike directs this curious adventure story set in China's picturesque Yunnan province. Workaholic Tokyo salaryman Wada (Masashiro Motoki) ventures into deepest, darkest China to investigate a massive deposit of high-quality jade. Tailing him is Ujiie (Renji Ishibashi), a snarling yakuza hell-bent on getting Wada's company to repay its debts. Led by their unflappable guide, Shun (Mako), the two go through rural villages and striking landscapes, quickly leaving behind all signs of the 20th century. As the trail grows narrower and more remote and as they brave gales, bugs, and floods, the long simmering tension between Wada and Ujiie bursts into full-scale contempt. One night, after Shun gets blind drunk, he hits his head and loses his memory. Now completely lost, the trio stumbles upon a hill tribe, whose children are adorned with wings made from bamboo and paper. Their teacher, a blue-eyed woman named Yan (Li Li Wang), tells them that she is teaching them to fly. Wada quickly becomes obsessed with this curious local. After she tells him that she has a book on human-powered flight and that her grandfather was a downed British airman, he almost believes that she can teach her students to soar. Soon Wada feels purged from the evils of city life while Ujiie decides to dedicate his life to protecting the village.

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Keywords

amnesia, drunk, gangster, investigator, Japanese [nationality], teacher, village