Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Renowned actor Jiang Wen directs this sweeping look at a small Chinese village located near the Great Wall during the closing days of WWII. As Japanese soldiers march up and down the village's main thoroughfare, Ma Dasan (Wen) is making love with his widowed lover Yu'er (Jiang Hongbo). Suddenly, there is a knock at the door and a gun at Ma's head. He is informed that for the next week he is to house two gagged and bound prisoners, one a fanatical Japanese soldier, the other a Chinese translator -- and to interrogate the pair. The village elders uneasily question the two, while the translator intentionally mistranslates the epithets and insults from the soldier. When the Chinese resistance fighters do not return to pick up the prisoners, the villagers panic and order Ma to execute them. Ma, in turn, panics and tries to hide the cantankerous duo in the Great Wall -- that is until the villagers discover his ruse and almost lynch him, despite a strongly worded defense by Yu'er. Six months later, the villagers become increasingly worried about boarding these prisoners, lest they all be branded collaborators. This film won the prestigious Grand Prix at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
Chinese [nationality], enemy, Japanese [nationality], peasant, resistance-fighters, village, war