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China Gate [Blu-ray] [1957] [US Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B27WRBA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,548 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Blu-ray
Sam Fuller's China Gate is a curiously schizophrenic war movie set in the last stages of France's doomed attempt to hold on to their colony in IndoChina that, despite being banned in France for supposedly being too critical, feels like what filmmakers at RKO during Howard Hughes' ownership used to refer to as `loyalty oath productions,' crudely commie bashing propaganda pictures designed to root out any employees who leaned a little too far to the left (the logic being that if you objected to working on them, you were obviously in the pay of Moscow). With Nat King Cole getting lines like "What I started out to do in Korea I didn't finish. There are still a lot of live commies around," the red-baiting is incredibly clumsy and heavy-handed enough to make The Green Berets look comparatively politically astute (and the two films share a lot of similarities with their missions behind enemy lines to destroy well-stocked commie ammo dumps to ensure the happiness of cute Vietnamese children), the film even crossing the line when it trivialises Fuller's own experiences liberating the Sokolov concentration camp at Falkenau and forcing the Germans to bury the Russian dead, dismissing the victims with a snide "At the time we figured they were our friends." Just to underline the point, one of the Foreign Legionnaires on the mission is a former Nazi who's now on the side of the angels because everybody has to band together to fight the new common enemy.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Excellent DVD and service.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars 63 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Film urgently needing reissue on widescreen DVD. 17 Aug. 2005
By Tony Williams - Published on
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I'm giving this VHS version 4 stars instead of the 5 it really deserves because the current cropped VHS version does a grave injustice to Samuel Fuller's visual style and his creative use of cinemascope. When the film was available on 16mm I used to run it in my Samuel Fuller class to show students the type of innovative work several films exhibited in the 1950s. As it stands at the moment, the VHS cropped, pan and scan version represents a travesty of an outstanding film.

As the other reviewer has noted, CHINA GATE is one of the first American films to deal with the Indo-China conflict that formed the prequel to the Vietnam War. But the casting of Angie Dickinson and Lee Van Cleef as Eurasians is not as bizarre as several reviewers noted. Lucky Legs (Dickinson) has been abandoned by Brock (Gene Barry) due to his racist reaction against his newborn son who looks Oriental. The film thus takes a more incisive look at American racism than does THE GREEN BERETS a decade later. By contrast, Lee Van Cleef's Viet-Minh commissar is a more humane end educated man than his American counterpart. He wishes to adopt Brock's son and Lucky Legs and provide the home Brock refuses to give them. However, Lucky Legs wishes her son to be an American despite her personal experience of racism from a man from "the land of the free." Like RUN OF THE ARROW, CHINA GATE deals with the complex issue of American identity and pulls no punches. Nat King Cole's Goldie has lost his wife to cancer, lives only for killing "commies", and condemns his white American counterpart for deserting his wife and child. It is one of the best performances Cole ever delivered in any American film.

But, as well as exhibiting Samuel Fuller's baroque visual style indebted to yellow journalism and the comic strip (which Jean Luc-Godard appropriated in the Vietnam sequence of PIERROT LE FOU a decade later), the film opens with documentary footage before it moves on to its fictional component. As early as 1957, Fuller has already begun to blur the boundaries between documentary "reality" and "fictional" narrative to raise issues usually related to the alternative realm of experimental cinema, boundaries that were not generally questioned in contemporary Hollywood narrative.

Far from being a perversely bizarre film disdained by most mainstream reviewers, past and present, CHINA GATE is actually a more challenging work dealing seriously with issues of American politics, history, and racial identity than any of its contempories. It is a film urgently needed DVD restoration restoring it to its original widescreen format with audio-commentaries by Fuller critics of the caliber of Bill Krohn and Jonathan Rosenbaum. Hopefully, some enterprising company should begin to do this soon.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sam Fuller takes on Indochina... 29 Mar. 2013
By Duke Mantee - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Gritty Sam Fuller war film finally restored...kind of. It's great to have this back in print again. As Fuller notes in his autobiography, "There were enough hot topics in this adventure love story to push everybody's buttons.Communism and colonialism.Racism and tolerance.Black markets and capitalism. Abandonment and fidelity." Great cast led by a nasty Gene Barry,a very young Angie Dickinson,Nat Cole,Marcel Dalio,Lee Van Cleef. The new BluRay has deep blacks and decent contrast through most of the film, but there are episodes of white digital "snow" marring the image through parts of the middle of the film.Not sure if this existed on the original master or if it is a flaw in the transfer.Quite a distraction,nonetheless.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be in DVD format 3 Dec. 2010
By Wally - Published on
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This is a great film that has been lost to the masses for too long. Now, the only time the movie is shown is late at night. And, it is the chopped up, badly edited version.

It is amazing that so many films are not available on DVD. It took forever for the John Ford movies "Wagon Master" and "Sgt. Rutledge" to make it into DVD. Hopefull "China Gate" will soon join the ranks of lost films found again.

And on a musical note, one of the great singers of all times Nat King Cole not only has a supporting role, but also sings the theme song.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Classic Vietnam Movie!! 29 Nov. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
This is one of the first classic 50's movies concerning the relationships,war and turmoil in Vietnam also featuring the reknowned singer Nat King Cole.It's a must see!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skipped in several places. 6 May 2013
By Louis J. Calabraro - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I had waited for this movie to come to DVD and was pleased to see it not only would be on DVD but appear in blu-ray. The movie is one of my favorite B films from the fifties. It is not just a good film but shows the roots of the Vietnam war as having been essential in spite of the liberal war haters of that era. My big regret was to find it was poorly reproduced as it skipped several times throught the first two/thirds of the movie.
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