"The responsibility of handling such an important and politically sensitive event might cause a lesser filmmaker to play it safe, and to some extent, the multiple storylines do seem imported from war movies past. But ... Lu wriggles out of convention where he can ... and engages with history as an artist, not a hagiographer." - Scott Tobias, AV Club. "Life is more difficult than death." - Kadokawa
It´s one of the best war movies ever made. Don´t stick with the Schindler´s List comparison, this is much more rough, violent, visceral. This is not Hollywood. And what the war is? That´s why I like this kind of cinema´s masterpiece. It makes me think how rough the world was, is, and will be. And let´s pray for a brighter day, to all of us. Because, in the very end, all we can do is pray.
The use of black and white and the remove we feel toward many of the characters is necessary in this disturbing film so we don't turn away from the screen in horror, with all the up close and personal murders taking place. I wanted to know more about some of the characters, especially the Nazi sympathizer Mr. Rabe and his Chinese secretary.
The pinnacle of contemporary Asian cinema. A touching and compelling vision of a horror the west often forgets shot in stunning black and white cinematography. This breaks the mold of typical Nanjing films by portraying the Japanese characters (particularly Kadokawa) as multifaceted humans rather than purely anti-Chinese monsters like many Mandarin films on the subject tend to.
Mubi compares this to Spielberg’s Schindler’s List but its far closer to Saving Private Ryan. Gorgeous black and white cinematography gives even the most appalling sequences a strange almost etheral beauty. Harrowing, tragic. Not an easy to film to watch but a film that should be watched.
Incredible picture on all levels from director Lu Chuan who gives a masterful take on the Rape of Nanking. Lu is one of the best directors to emerge in the last fifteen years from China but the growth from his two first features (Missing Gun and Kekexili) is staggering. Cinematography by Cao Yu is breathtaking and the performances captured are genuine and exacting. One can only be left breathless by the images.
Incredible story based on true events. Most profound War story I have seen in a long time. The action and audio of combat is TOO real. Surprisingly even handed treatment of the things soldiers do in war. The black and white is lucious. This is a superior film from the people's republic.
The movie was expertly crafted and leaves a haunting impression; however, in comparison to first-hand accounts of the Rape of Nanjing, it was extremely tame in its depiction of the massacre, and at times a bit too sympathetic to the Japanese. That being said, the film's depiction of the violence still isn't for the easily disturbed.
A friend told me of another film dealing with the same subject released in the late Eighties, entitled MEN BEHIND THE SUN. Everything I've read and heard about it tells me that it's something I will never see, as it's an exploitation film with no real merit. Having just seen CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH two days ago, I can say with confidence that it is anything but. A film with an epic scale, but somber, stirring, human.