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East Palace, West Palace [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

3 new from £24.99 1 used from £21.24

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Product details

  • Actors: Si Han, Jun Hu, Jing Ye, Wei Zhao
  • Directors: Yuan Zhang
  • Writers: Yuan Zhang, Wang Xiaobo
  • Producers: Yuan Zhang, Christophe Jung, Christophe Ménager, Willy Tsao
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Peccadillo Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Jun. 2004
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002849YS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,472 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

A young gay writer, A-Lan, is arrested after a police raid on his local park and is interrogated at the police station. The one-on-one interrogation leads to unwanted memories for A-Lan, with flashbacks to his childhood, his first sexual experiences, and his search for love. It also leads the police officer to confront his own feelings.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
What a surprising film, not to mention the story of its being smuggled out of China for editing in France, before being premiered in Argentina and screened at the 1997 Cannes Festival. The portrayal of gayness in Chinese cinema is not only ground-breaking, but it drew attention to two cruising areas near the Forbidden City, as given in the title, which was what made it so sensitive. The film, directed by Zhang Yuan, is an interrogation by a policeman of a young writer, A-Lan, whom he arrests in one of these parks, more than once. Si Han plays the young man with great intensity; a figure who very much lives for love, is actually married, but has had a number of encounters with men in which he seeks to be dominated. The police officer fulfils this fantasy too, but what makes it intriguing is the way he is clearly attracted to his victim, and the action is a kind of ballet of desire and identity, tenderness and toughness, masculine and feminine, intimate or roughly rejecting. A-Lan recounts a number of episodes from his past, which are then shown as flashbacks, going back to his schooldays. The handsome officer in his leather jacket is all ears, torn between disgust and attraction ... Sometimes the acting out is literal, sometimes more mood-creating; it is also interspersed with scenes from the Beijing opera, showing an intense relationship between a lady and her maid. The singing from this mingles with some astringent string music like early Bartok, to beguiling effect. The police officer is played very alluringly by Hu Jun, who also starred in Lan Yu, another pioneering Chinese film on a gay subject. This one is superbly tense and full of longing, and is carefully composed; it surely stands alongside Lan Yu and In The Mood For Love, as one of the great modern Chinese films. It also bears a striking resemblance to Kiss Of The Spider Woman in its psychological outline and the beauty of its mise-en-scene.
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This is a rare gem of Chinese film making, and the director and actors should be respected for their brave effort to give us in the free West a glimpse into the claustrophobic suppression of thought and emotion in a totalitarian society. The acting is outstanding and the two actors keep our attention for the whole duration of this film. On the whole this film is not a minor achievement and deserves wider distribution and appreciation.
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This film is base on wong xiao bo's book which is the same name. wong and his wife Li yin he have writed the story for her research on the homosexual of man. In the west , many people know Ang Lee's film Brokenback Mountain. this film is a oriental homo story like BM on certain point,but not all.
In 1997 the Chinese government put director 'Zhang, Yuan' under house arrest and confiscated his passport. His friends smuggled this movie out of the country so it could be shown at the 1997 Cannes film festival___by imdb
In china , only a few people know this film, in fact , the few people have labeled it as a gay film,but I think more than "gay"
Chinese goverment don't like their people say to many on the sex , so the political enviroment is like their attitude on the sex, zhang want to show this homo story to reflect our politcs. If you know something about the chinese democracy revolution, then you can watch this movie and understand it's meaning easily.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful 22 Aug. 2000
By T. R. Rak - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Si Han performs brilliantly as A-Lan, a young gay writer who falls madly in love with Shi, a macho police officer (played by Hu Jun) who has arrested and proceeds to interrogate him intensively. A key idea to understanding this film is that there is no such thing as love, real compassionate devotionate unconditional love, without at least some element(s) or component(s) of suffering and genuine sacrifice involved. Si Han's powerful acting renders A-Lan's ardent passion, suffering and compassion into vivid cinematic actualization, translated very well to VHS with excellent subtitling.
There is mystery, subtlety, subtext, metaphor and allusion in this movie which only heighten the audience's interest. What, for example, is A-Lan referring to exactly when he speaks of his being "married?" We are captivated by this mesmerizing captive as he gradually unveils his story, and his soul, to the cop, his captor, his tormentor, possibly even his executioner, yet at the same time his deeply beloved.
In the hands of a lesser director this film might've failed on any number of levels, but Zhang Yuan has crafted a jewel, a delicate labor of love. This film reminds the reviewer of the sort of humanistic psychology practiced by Carl Rogers, also the kinds of healing breakthroughs achieved by Gong Shu, art therapist and acclaimed student of psychodrama's cofounder Zerka Moreno. "East Palace, West Palace" is so imbrued with hope, care, sensitivity and metanoia for and towards its characters that one gets the impression these actors (and actresses) all of them are Yuan's own beloved children. With a gentle but firm, parental hand he directs and guides his exceptional cast to incredible fruition in their compelling portrayals and core revelations.
There is something for everyone here. There is fantastic and poignant humor; one will come away never thinking of "bus" in quite the same light ever again. There is sex; lots of it, gobs of it, sometimes even extremely violent sex, though rendered all-the-more powerfully precisely because much of it is left to that ocean of sensuality and polymorphous eroticism itself, the theatre of the mind. And there are moments in this movie where your eyes will well with tears, and you will welcome them.
If it is true that, as comparative mytheologian Joseph Campbell insists, "from sacrifice comes bliss," then the many and great sacrifices Zhang Yuan made to bring "East Palace, West Palace" to us are rewarded in the exceptional bliss you will discover and engage in this rare, precious and life-giving gem from Beijing. Please don't miss it.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful 21 Aug. 2000
By T. R. Rak - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Si Han performs brilliantly as A-Lan, a young gay writer who falls madly in love with Shi, a macho police officer (played by Hu Jun) who has arrested and proceeds to interrogate him intensively. A key idea to understanding this film is that there is no such thing as love, real compassionate devotionate unconditional love, without at least some element(s) or component(s) of suffering and genuine sacrifice involved. Si Han's powerful acting renders A-Lan's ardent passion, suffering and compassion into vivid cinematic actualization, translated very well to VHS with excellent subtitling.
There is mystery, subtlety, subtext, metaphor and allusion in this movie which only heighten the audience's interest. What, for example, is A-Lan referring to exactly when he speaks of his being "married?" We are captivated by this mesmerizing captive as he gradually unveils his story, and his soul, to the cop, his captor, his tormentor, possibly even his executioner, yet at the same time his deeply beloved.
In the hands of a lesser director this film might've failed on any number of levels, but Zhang Yuan has crafted a jewel, a delicate labor of love. This film reminds the reviewer of the sort of humanistic psychology practiced by Carl Rogers, also the kinds of healing breakthroughs achieved by Gong Shu, art therapist and acclaimed student of psychodrama's cofounder Zerka Moreno. "East Palace, West Palace" is so imbrued with hope, care, sensitivity and metanoia for and towards its characters that one gets the impression these actors (and actresses) all of them are Yuan's own beloved children. With a gentle but firm, parental hand he directs and guides his exceptional cast to incredible fruition in their compelling portrayals and core revelations.
There is something for everyone here. There is fantastic and poignant humor; one will come away never thinking of "bus" in quite the same light ever again. There is sex; lots of it, gobs of it, sometimes even extremely violent sex, though rendered all-the-more powerfully precisely because much of it is left to that ocean of sensuality and polymorphous eroticism itself, the theatre of the mind. And there are moments in this movie where your eyes will well with tears, and you will welcome them.
If it is true that, as comparative mytheologian Joseph Campbell insists, "from sacrifice comes bliss," then the many and great sacrifices Zhang Yuan made to bring "East Palace, West Palace" to us are rewarded in the exceptional bliss you will discover and engage in this rare, precious and life-giving gem from Beijing. Please don't miss it.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful 26 Aug. 2000
By T. R. Rak - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Si Han performs brilliantly as A-Lan, a young gay writer who falls madly in love with Shi, a macho police officer (played by Hu Jun) who has arrested and proceeds to interrogate him intensively. A key idea to understanding this film is that there is no such thing as love, real compassionate devotionate unconditional love, without at least some element(s) or component(s) of suffering and genuine sacrifice involved. Si Han's powerful acting renders A-Lan's ardent passion, suffering and compassion into vivid cinematic actualization, translated very well to VHS with excellent subtitling.
There is mystery, subtlety, subtext, metaphor and allusion in this movie which only heighten the audience's interest. What, for example, is A-Lan referring to exactly when he speaks of his being "married?" We are captivated by this mesmerizing captive as he gradually unveils his story, and his soul, to the cop, his captor, his tormentor, possibly even his executioner, yet at the same time his deeply beloved.
In the hands of a lesser director this film of intense homosexual love might've failed on any number of levels, but Zhang Yuan has crafted a jewel, a delicate labor of love. This film reminds the reviewer of the sort of humanistic psychology practiced by Carl Rogers, also the varieties of healing breakthroughs achieved by Gong Shu, art therapist and acclaimed student of psychodrama's cofounder Zerka Moreno. "East Palace, West Palace" is so imbrued with hope, dynamism, care, sensitivity and metanoia for and towards its characters that one gets the heartfelt impression these actors (and actresses) all of them are Yuan's own beloved children. With a gentle but firm, parental hand he directs and guides his exceptional cast to incredible fruition in their compelling portrayals, interpersonal as well as intrapersonal explorations, and core revelations.
There is something for everyone here. There is fantastic and poignant humor; one will come away never thinking of "bus" in quite the same light ever again. There is sex; lots of it, gobs of it, sometimes even extremely violent sex, though rendered all-the-more powerfully precisely because the overarching essence of it is left to that ocean of sensuality and polymorphous eroticism itself, the theatre of the human mind. And there are moments in this movie where your eyes will well with tears, and you will welcome them.
If it is true that, as comparative mytheologian Joseph Campbell insists, "from sacrifice comes bliss," then the many and great sacrifices Zhang Yuan made to bring "East Palace, West Palace" to us are rewarded in the exceptional bliss you will discover, confront and engage in this rare, precious and life-restorative gem from Beijing. Please don't miss it.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful 15 Aug. 2000
By T. R. Rak - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Si Han performs brilliantly as A-Lan, a young gay writer who falls madly in love with Shi, a macho police officer (played by Hu Jun) who has arrested and proceeds to interrogate him intensively. A key idea to understanding this film is that there is no such thing as love, real compassionate devotionate unconditional love, without at least some element(s) or component(s) of suffering or genuine sacrifice involved. Si Han's powerful acting renders A-Lan's ardent passion, suffering and compassion into vivid cinematic actualization, translated very well to VHS with excellent subtitling.
There is mystery, subtlety, subtext, metaphor and allusion in this movie which only heighten the audience's interest. What, for example, is A-Lan referring to exactly when he speaks of his being "married?" We are captivated by this mesmerizing captive as he gradually unveils his story, and his soul, to the cop, his captor, his tormentor, possibly even his executioner, yet at the same time his deeply beloved.
In the hands of a lesser director this film might've failed on any number of levels, but Zhang Yuan has crafted a jewel, a delicate labor of love no less. This film reminds the reviewer of the sort of humanistic psychology reminiscent of Carl Rogers, also the kinds of healing breakthroughs achieved by Gong Shu, art therapist and acclaimed student of psychodrama's cofounder Zerka Moreno. "East Palace, West Palace" is so imbrued with hope, care, sensitivity and metanoia for and towards its characters that one gets the feeling these actors (and actresses) all of them are Yuan's own beloved children. With a gentle but firm, parental hand he directs and guides his exceptional cast to incredible fruition in their compelling portrayals and core revelations.
There is something for everyone here. There is fantastic and poignant humor; one will come away never thinking of "bus" in quite the same light ever again. There is sex; lots of it, gobs of it, sometimes even extremely violent sex, though rendered all-the-more powerfully precisely because much of it is left to that ocean of sensuality and eroticism itself, the theatre of the mind. And there are moments in this movie where your eyes will well with tears, and you will welcome them.
If it is true that, as comparative mytheologian Joseph Campbell insists, "from sacrifice comes bliss," then the many and great sacrifices Zhang Yuan made to bring "East Palace, West Palace" to us are rewarded in the exceptional bliss which you will discover and engage in this rare, precious and life-giving gem from Beijing. Please don't miss it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent film 20 Mar. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Beautifully made and mesmerizing film. Very sensuous, satisfying and somewhat poetic. Two leading actors are superb. In many ways, the film is a masterpiece.

The action progresses slowly, as one Chinese policemen (played by Jun Hu) notices and arrests a young gay regular in a park (which is apparently used a "socializing" / hook-up place for gay men in Beijing). During the overnight interrogation process, the young man (brilliantly depicted by Si Han) pulls the conservative policeman in the whirl of his passion, his conflicting emotions and thoughts via an intricate web of the memories he shares with the policeman. The movie centers on the dialogue between the two during a quiet night at the police station, and continuous flashbacks of the scenes from his past that Si Han shares with the policeman.

The ending is climatic and with an unexpected and somewhat surreal twist. Watch it!
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