1911

1911: Anniversary film about the revolution that ended 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. There’s a whole lot of revolutioning rolled into the opening 30 minutes, and the story doesn’t rest after that – entire week-long battles are boiled down to a minute of slow-mo and a paragraph summary of events. Even the indoor political scenes have frantic jump-cuts (like individual words have been removed) and crazy-fast dialogue. The overall tone of the movie feels like retrospective propaganda – definitely a rose-tinted version of history told by the winners, about their noble martyrs. Several westerners pop up at various points, and are portrayed as 1-dimensional cold fat-cats, only interested in money. On the up, it’s stunningly shot, every frame looks picturesque. Sets, costumes, detail all outstanding, especially in the large-scale set-pieces. Jackie Chan gets to administer a token ass kicking; more generally, he does well with his character, despite sharing screen time with scores of important characters that are continually introduced up to the last reel. With several TV series of the same story warranting 60 x 45 min, and 41x 45 minute episodes, this film feels like you’re flipping through a 1,000 page history book looking only at the pictures and captions – ignoring the main text. Unfortunately, being Chan‘s 100th movie is the most significant thing about 1911, and most disappointingly, there’s only a glimpse of the entertaining ass-kicking and stunts that made him a global star. The scope is just far, far too big to pull off in a conventional movie format.

Score: 4.5/10

NOTE: UK DVD is 95 minutes long, not international 125 minute cut

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