Devils On The Doorstep

Devils On The Doorstep

Director: Jiang Wen, Teruyuki Kagawa

Cast: Jiang Wen, Teruyuki Kagawa

     
 
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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Jiang Wen's mordant World War II epic was a huge hit with international critics, but nearly sunk his career when Chinese authorities banned the film and exiled Jiang from the movie industry. Set during Japan's brutal occupation of China during the war, Devils on the Doorstep plays like a broad black comedy in its first half. The film's humor is predicated on cultural misunderstanding and farcical convolutions, as a group of peasants in Northern China bicker over what they should do with two unwanted Japanese captives that have been left in their custody by shadowy resistance fighters. As the plot unravels, however, the rollicking tone curdles into hysterical outrage, and the inexorable illogic of war sets in. The movie's climactic set piece is a village feast amid a truce, with the Japanese soldiers and Chinese peasants celebrating side-by-side in a startling show of bonhomie. Reminiscent of a famous bonfire party scene in Olivier Assayas's Cold Water, the sequence keeps you on edge -- the raging bacchanal threatens to careen out of control, and the precarious harmony seems poised for an inevitable upending. The latest in a long line of tragicomic antiwar works, Devils on the Doorstep doesn't really say anything new about the horrors of war and the human condition. With its expansive scope, expressive mise-en-scene and absurdist spirit, however, Jiang's movie proves itself a worthy addition to an unfortunately relevant genre.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/19/2005
UPC:
0037429204221
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
NR
Source:
Homevision
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:19:00

Special Features

Digital transfer enhanced for 16:9 televisions; Dolby Digital 5.1 audio; Introduction by Steven Soderbergh; Reprinted interview with director Jiang Wen; Original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Candy and Clean Water [3:20]
2. Me! [3:31]
3. Fortune or Misfortune [5:18]
4. Oral Statement [4:55]
5. Shout! [5:18]
6. White Flour [5:32]
7. Happy New Year [8:25]
8. That Chicken [7:40]
9. Kill 'Em [6:34]
10. Didn't Kill Anyone [4:55]
11. Japs in the Wall [7:42]
12. Wrong Place [4:04]
13. Old Man Liu [4:27]
14. One Strike Liu [3:55]
15. Lives for Grain [6:08]
16. Two Questions [4:07]
17. Reunited [3:53]
18. Honoring the Agreement [10:53]
19. Homecoming [8:04]
20. An Invitation [6:46]
21. Massacre [5:50]
22. The New Order [4:08]
23. Vengeance [3:17]
24. Justice [4:39]
25. Death / End Credits [5:44]

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