Synopsis by Mark Deming
The material and spiritual sides of one man's life are reflected in a game that allowed him to become a hero in this historical drama from Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang. Wu Qingyuan (Chang Chen) was born to a wealthy family in China, and as a boy he revealed a remarkable talent for the centuries-old game known as Go. Wu's skill for the game was so great that in the 1920s he was given the opportunity to travel to Japan, where he would learn from the grand masters of Go and compete with champions from around the world. Wu spent most of the rest of his life in Japan, where his life was bordered on one side by Go and on the other by his study of Zen; however, Wu was also a Chinese man living in Japan during a time that the two nations were often in violent conflict, and he found himself viewing some of the most crucial and traumatic events of Japanese history through the eyes of an outsider. Wu Qingyuan received its American premiere at the 2006 New York Film Festival.