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"Just Another Story of Misfortune..."
on 14 August 2013
Christian Bale stars as John Miller, a mortician on his way to Winchester Cathedral in the middle of war torn Nanking 1937 to bury a priest. The Japanese are taking control of the city. As a westerner Miller is allowed some leeway. When he gets to the church, he discovers they have no money to pay him. There is a group of a dozen girl students who want out. While he is trying to sort things out, a group of local prostitutes arrive seeking refuge from the war.
John Miller immediately shows us his bad side. In addition to the conflict between the Japanese and Chinese, the students don't want the working girls there. The working girls want out of Nanking too and promise John "unimaginable pleasures" from all of them for safe passage.
Eventually, Miller dons a priest cloak and goes from zero to hero as he works relentlessly to save the girls. It is a story which shows how the least of us become heroes.
Much of the movie is in English, the rest has subtitles. There is some first person narration by one of the students. I thought the oriental actors did a better job than Christian Bale who reminded me too much of Jeff Bridges. Chinese actress Ni Ni as Yu Mo gave us a good performance.
There are war scenes, killing, and a few rape scenes, although this is not a grindhouse exploitation film. No nudity, some f-bombs lobbed in Chinese. The film, as expected, has its emotional ups and downs.