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City of Life and Death [Blu-ray]

Price: £5.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Gao Yuanyuan, Ye Liu, Wei Fan
  • Directors: Lu Chuan
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Chinese
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: High Fliers
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Sept. 2010
  • Run Time: 139 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003S4LEPU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,102 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Nanjing, China 1937. Japanese forces invade this once-capital of the Republic of China on December 9th. Throughout the following six weeks, soldiers raped thousands of women and annihilated hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians with mass executions; crowds mown down by firing squads, and victims digging their own graves. Few events carry the ugly and sickening connotations of what has become known as the Rape of Nanking . Director Lu Chuan tells the horrifying story through several figures, including a conscience-stricken Japanese soldier and John Rabe, a Nazi businessman who would ultimately save thousands of Chinese civilians lives.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 50 REVIEWER on 24 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I wanted to see this after having seen, `City of War' last year which allegedly tells the story of John Rabe, who is acknowledged for having saved thousands of Chinese during what has gone down I history as `The rape of Nanking'. This film aims to tell the true version of events and includes the efforts made by John Rabe and the small international delegation that stayed on to help the Chinese.

Director Lu Chuan tells the unrelenting horror story of the six week occupation in an observational way but it is impossible to not become partisan as the Japanese are seen to be little short of murdering monsters. He uses several characters to tell the story and has interestingly included an Imperial Japanese Army soldier who has a guilty conscience. He even feels he is having a relationship with on of the euphemistically titled `comfort girls'. This depiction of a confused and caring Japanese soldier actually brought death threats to Lu and his family as being over sympathetic and it was removed from some mailnland Chinese cinemas, however it was saved by the personal support from Li Changchun, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

That aside this is unrelenting in its quite often graphic depiction of the murders, beheadings rapes, and mass executions that took place taking the lives of 300,000 Chinese.

It is shot entirely in black and white and is actually lit brilliantly to give it a period feel (probably to reflect that these events took place in 1937). However the cinematographic beauty aside, this was a very harrowing and sobering film, which I must confess I found hard to get through. That is not because it runs for 130 mins, but because I found the constant brutality a bit much and I do not consider myself to be a bit soft on such matters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cartimand TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Blu-ray
This remarkable movie is an utterly visceral account of the infamous 'Rape of Nanking', during which the Japanese Imperial army tortured and massacred hundreds of thousands of POWs and Chinese civilians.

The story unfolds almost in a stream-of-consciousness style as seen through the eyes of real people. These include Westerners caught up in the massacre such as "good Nazi" John Rabe, who saved a great many Chinese in similar manner to Schindler saving Jews. The countless Chinese victims include horrifically abused women, the tragic family man Mr Tang and the remarkably stoic little boy Xiaodouzi, who will truly melt your heart. Bravely for a Chinese director, obviously aware of the PRC's official line on how to depict the enemy, director Lu Chuan also depicts one honourable Japanese soldier. Kadokawa, played sensitively by Hideo Nakaizumi, contrasts enormously with the shameful cowardice and savagery of his fellow Japanese soldiers.

The director's choice to shoot in black and white adds a certain historical gravitas to the film which, in Blu-Ray, looks utterly stunning. Every spot and wrinkle is visible on every face and the bleak, blasted cityscapes appear remarkably close to photos I've seen from the real Nanking. Whilst some scenes are certainly shocking, there's not a huge amount of actual gore. The true horror is depicted in the victims' eyes and in scenes where the director lets the viewers' imagination fill in the blanks; a memorable example being the many women marching away after being coerced into becoming "comfort women" for the Japanese - and the very few women staggering back with horror in their eyes.

Be warned - this film may well leave you hating the Japanese.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Oct. 2010
Format: Blu-ray
Lu Chuan's startling debut film was the innovative and very entertaining "The Missing Gun". He followed this up with the magisterial eco fable "Kekexili Mountain Patrol", which showcased a burgeoning talent for sweeping cinematography. He then stepped up to make the big budget "City of Life and Death", the epic story of the infamous "Rape of Nanking". Many a talented director weaned on smaller budget movies has crashed and burned with the greater demands required of the epic. Thankfully Lu Chuan is not one of those, and has enhanced his reputation further in the West, if not in his Chinese homeland where the sympathetic treatment of one Japanese soldier caused controversy. Such is still the anguish to the Chinese psyche at the mere mention of Nanking even to this day.

The film commences at the fall of the great Chinese city to the Imperial Japanese army. This signals the commencement of an orgy of violence on a biblical scale. Those of a sensitive disposition might be advised to steer well clear of this film as it does not shirk from depicting many of the atrocities committed, which makes both for compelling and harrowing viewing. We follow the lives of individuals from both sides in this barbarous cauldron, where life can be very cheap indeed. At times you are inevitably reminded of the horror of the holocaust, with the stream of slaughterhouse like images that assail the senses. If the film sets out to shock, then it certainly achieves its aim.

The film is aptly made in a stark black and white which is appropriate given the sombre subject matter. Some of the images are beautifully composed, with powerful cinematography.
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