The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War Image
Metascore
46

Mixed or average reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 61 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: An unprincipled American is caught in the turmoil of China during the 1937 invasion by Japan. Seeking refuge in a Catholic Church, he meets up with a courtesan desperate to protect a group of schoolgirls from the vicious onslaught. Putting aside his usual selfish tendencies, the AmericanAn unprincipled American is caught in the turmoil of China during the 1937 invasion by Japan. Seeking refuge in a Catholic Church, he meets up with a courtesan desperate to protect a group of schoolgirls from the vicious onslaught. Putting aside his usual selfish tendencies, the American risks everything to help them. Collapse

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 22
  2. Negative: 2 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Dec 29, 2011
    80
    Ultimately an inspiring, stirring and unforgettable human drama in the face of a horrifying war. It is highly recommended.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jan 17, 2012
    75
    It's a special film of sacrifice, redemption and hope in the shadow of a holocaust that packs an emotional wallop from which there is no escape. I can't get it out of my thoughts, and I recommend it highly.
  3. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 20, 2011
    70
    Scene by scene, The Flowers of War is an erratic and ungainly piece of storytelling, full of melodramatic twists and grotesque visual excesses (a bullet pierces first a stained-glass window and then a girl's neck), which are nonetheless delivered with startling conviction.
  4. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Dec 19, 2011
    50
    This film has too many weak, unconnected strands (what's the subplot about the narrator's father doing here anyway?), too much overtly expositional dialogue, and too unfocused a narrative to really cohere. And then there's that whole matter of expendable whores.
  5. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 18, 2012
    50
    Now let me ask you: Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too much?
  6. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Dec 26, 2011
    40
    Flowers abounds with well-worn movie archetypes and slathers on schmaltz.
  7. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Dec 23, 2011
    25
    Zhang Yimou, one of China's best-known filmmakers, deserves a great big lump of coal in his holiday stocking thanks to his ludicrous soap opera The Flowers of War.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 19
  2. Negative: 3 out of 19
  1. Dec 25, 2011
    10
    I have never been deeply moved by a Chinese movie,but the film ,The Flowes of War does it,.It made me a unforgettable impression.The poltI have never been deeply moved by a Chinese movie,but the film ,The Flowes of War does it,.It made me a unforgettable impression.The polt and the frame of movie are very excellent .Most important, I was deeply stirred by the sad story of 13 FLOWERS .ALSO by the CHINA in the past .As a Chinese,I feel angry and wanna cry .But I can't forget the history of this period .This is a good film ,and it gives me a significant lesson.By the way,I hope you can love it like me. Expand
  2. Feb 9, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It is a good chinese film.Best director,best Actor,best Screenwriter.I moved by the film deeply!The film expresses braveï¼ Expand
  3. Dec 16, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Donner 10 à un film est toujours mal vu. Mais moi je me dis, si j'ai adorée le film, s'il m'a touché, si je n'y ai pas trouvé de longueur et que j'en aurais demandé plus...voilà quelques raison pourquoi je donne 10. Dans ce film dont les images ne sont pas facile à regarder, où les balles traversent les corps et les têtes...certaines scènes démontrent un grand côté artistique, voire la beauté à travers le drame, la scène qui me vient en tête est celle que les filles de joies s'enroulent dans les draps blancs, elles tournent sur elles-mêmes, en même temps, tel une performance de ballet. Lorsque les filles laissent tomber à tour de rôle un miroir qui éclate en fracats par terre au ralenti. Tout au long du film il y a des intrigues et des revirements de situation. Les actrices asiatiques m'ont particulièrement touchées. Vraiment, ce film est magnique. Expand
  4. Oct 11, 2013
    8
    A great film. Very interesting and moving story. You really get a view on the Nanjing Massacre with the graphic cruelty and horror shown inA great film. Very interesting and moving story. You really get a view on the Nanjing Massacre with the graphic cruelty and horror shown in many scenes.
    Wouldn't say it was Bale's best performance. The plot manages to stick on the main theme which is war, courage, sacrifice..
    Expand
  5. Jan 12, 2012
    8
    Great movie, which tell you a crucial war story from a special point. However, I still can not fee strong logic for those 13 "flowers" toGreat movie, which tell you a crucial war story from a special point. However, I still can not fee strong logic for those 13 "flowers" to sacrifice their life for others. Expand
  6. May 13, 2013
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One of the ancient ploys of the film industry is to make a film about non-white people and find a way, however convoluted, to tell it from the point of view of a white character. "The Help" (2011) is a recent example: The film is essentially about how poor, hard-working black maids in Mississippi empowered a young white woman to write a best-seller about them. "Glory" (1989) is about a Civil War regiment of black soldiers; the story is seen through the eyes of their white commander.
    One of the last places you'd expect to see this practice is in a Chinese film. But what else can we make of Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War"? It takes place during the Rape of Nanking (1937-38), one of the most horrifying atrocities in history, during which the Imperial Japanese Army invaded the Chinese capital city and slaughtered an estimated 300,000 civilians, usually raping the women first. It is one thing for civilians to die in the course of a war, and another for them to be hunted down and wiped out on a personal basis for the crime of their race.
    Now we have the first fiction film about this event by one of the leading Chinese directors, who contrives to tell it through the experiences of a drunken American mortician named John Miller (Christian Bale). This man finds himself in Nanking at the time, misses a chance to escape the city and ends up hiding out in a huge Catholic cathedral, which is theoretically neutral ground.
    Also sheltered in the cathedral are about 25 young Chinese women, divided between schoolgirls and prostitutes. Miller is a mess in the early scenes of the film, but slowly he pulls himself together, sobers up, dresses in a priest's vestments and takes on the responsibility of protecting the women. He's assisted by a young man named George (Huang Tianyuan), whose owlish spectacles and little cap make him look ineffectual and set him up for heroism.
    The cathedral is surrounded by Japanese troops, who occupy the whole city and are now routinely shooting all civilians on sight. For the time being, those inside the walls of the cathedral grounds are safe, but to leave means the certainty of death. Miller's improvisations and quick thinking, and the partial cooperation of a Japanese officer who loves music and is therefore not all evil, you see, keeps the women alive, despite some close calls. This episodic cliffhanging sustains the narrative; a third of a million may be dead, but for our purposes, all depends on the survival of these young women, and the redemption of the alcoholic American. Do you get my drift?
    Spoiler warning: The Japanese outside the cathedral know about the schoolchildren but not about the hookers in the wine cellar. The music-loving Japanese officer invites the girls to come and sing at a party for his staff. It is virtually certain this will lead to their rape and murder. The prostitutes have also undergone a process of redemption and now, no longer crass and self-serving, they nobly volunteer to switch clothing with the girls and take their places. Then it will be up to "Father John" to somehow save the students.
    "The Flowers of War" is in many ways a good film, as we expect from Zhang Yimou ("Ju Dou," "Raise the Red Lantern," "To Live"). It is handsomely photographed. Its exteriors were apparently shot on sets, including an impressive one for the cathedral and its surrounding grounds. Christian Bale grows tiresome as a drunk, but then straightens up and is an adequate hero, although lacking in depth and background. Yu Mo, the leader of the prostitutes, is played in a effective heart-of-gold way by Ni Ni. Huang Tianyuan is good as George, but there is never a danger of him stealing a scene.
    Now let me ask you: Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too?
    Expand
  7. Jan 11, 2012
    0
    I gave up after 10 minutes. Imagine Nanking(2007) with the flippant humour of an Indian Jones movie and you have , in essence, this sorryI gave up after 10 minutes. Imagine Nanking(2007) with the flippant humour of an Indian Jones movie and you have , in essence, this sorry sorry excuse for a movie. Its awful. I am embarrassed for the director . And i can only imagine how Mr Bale feels. Its actually a bit disturbing how the death of children can be inter-mixed with humour. I feel somewhat disgusted by the movie and i can only hope that it quickly disappears and will not be for general release. Expand

See all 19 User Reviews

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