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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 13 February 2013
This is an excellent war epic and an interesting history lesson about a neglected but important bit of twentieth century history. My ignorance of Chinese history in the year 1927 raised the tension about who wins in the end. Is the armed communist uprising in Nanchang going to succeed or not? Will history be made or will it all end in disaster for the revolutionary cause? The idealistic Chou-En Lai thinks it a good idea and sets about to organise it. Meanwhile Mao brags about his accomplishments in swimming across the River Yangstze but does not take any part in the action. Meanwhile the reactionary KMT leaders indulge in their own machinations to try to stifle the rising.

The success of the uprising seems to depend on the wavering political orientation of an eccentric general called "He" as to whether he will use his troops to aid the communist cause or accept the cosy inducements of the KMT. "He" has a spiffing moustache and is known for his advocacy of Western food. An entertaining sub-plot concerns his beautiful niece who wants to get a gun and join the army to get revenge on those who slaughtered her family. The climatic uprising and battle of Nanchang is genuinely gripping, but I won't tell you who wins in case it spoils the movie for you...Will buy parts 2 and 3 to see how it all pans out...
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I found this movie o.k. and superior by far to the 2nd installment of the Axis of War Triology Axis Of War: My Long March [DVD] [2008]. But to enjoy it you must have a vested interest in Chinese history and not mind the brazenly obvious propaganda.

Production values are very high in this series but it is let down by a seriously old fashioned script and not so subtle propaganda. The story itself is interesting and shows well the beginings of the Red Army and the rise of Mao's Communist party. Interestingly the Communists and Guomindang (Kuomintang) worked together at the start and their members fought in the same battles, albeit usually under the Guomindang banner against the Warlords at the time of great strife in China. Both followed in the footsteps of Dr Sun Yat-sen. What set them apart was that the Guomindang power was military based while the Communists looked for support of the masses, while they had more support with left wing intellectuals and history shows that is the wrong crowd when going to war.

So the film tells the story of how Zhu De and his 10.000 strong army joined forces with the Communists under the leadership of Zhou Enlai and in this movie Mao has a secondary role although his presence is strong and the movie ends with a quote from Mao about how nothing can stop the Communists with Mao and Zhu in charge.

For the large part the movie is confusing for anyone not well versed in this part of history. A lot of seemingly powerful persons come to the front and it is hard to tell them apart and who is who. The bright spots are that production value is high, as good as you expect from any good movie. It has fun parts, I real liked the parts where they had the songs, like "Brother John" but about how to bring down the warlords and rise up people instead of the normal text. No expense is spared in the movie and the battle scenes are large and powerful.

The downsides are many as well. Overt propaganda and really old style script. It ruins the battles to have people crying in highly and over the top dramatic cliché. Also the battles have little sense of direction, so for all the money spent they aren't satisfying for a real war movie buff.

All told I thought the movie was o.k. but certainly no more than that. It is possibly best suited to an audience that knows this history best, is open to this form of propaganda and is over 50.
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on 23 May 2010
Comrades, keep wikipedia handy as you start to watch this film, as the vast majority of us Western-types won't have the foggiest who's who or what's happening early on in this film (although it gradually becomes apparent that the story is esentially about the founding of the first large scale Commy uprising in Nancheng). The film is clearly designed for the home market rather than the international market, so assumes you're familiar with what is probably pretty basic Chinese/Communist history; this is aggrevated further by the fact that unless you're familiar with Chinese names it can be quite tricky keeping track of who is talking about who?! I could probably identify no more than 2, possibly 3, of the characters by name (and I have literally just finished watching the film and the title screen is just starting to grate on my nerves with the same loop of music endlessly repeating!) Also, another 'cultural problem' is the subtitles are a little bit awkward in places, with 'odd' translations coupled with relatively short screen-time for some lines (an extra second or two would be handy to get to grips with some of the Chinese names/places).

Essentially we start the film with the KMT (the Kuomintang aka the Chinese Nationalists as I discovered on wiki) attempting to unite China by crushing the 'Warlords' in the North, however things get a little mixed up when the Commies start causing trouble on the 'homefront'. The fact that the KMT is riddled with Commies doesn't really help matters either; so in a nutshell we have Nationalists and Communists fighting together against the 'Warlords' out in the field whilst the Communists seem to be plotting against everyone 'back home'.

The style of the film starts off as a fairly gritty (if a little confusing) warfilm, with almost a 'Saving Private Wang' feel to it, but as the plot gradually progresses, the style becomes less and less credible as the cheesey Commy 'key moments in history' are played out...

All in all it's an ok film, but I won't be bothering with parts 2 and 3...

Now, let us round off this review with a rousing chorus of the 'freeing the oppressed masses' song (as featured at the end of part 1!)
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on 17 October 2011
when i saw this movie, i was quite entertained by the story and the acting. It is based on history, and that is why i have bought it!. Eventhough it is probably propagandastic also, but, the acting is good enough, and the heroism is not exergerated!.
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on 9 October 2013
Part One only of this major Chinese War. very unusual and complex topic handled exceptionally well. The action scenes are spectacularly realist, and the political intriques absorbing. Can't wait to get the two other follow-ups.
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on 22 July 2012
I just wish I`d read some of these reviews before I wasted my money on this piece of propaganda.
Very lengthy scenes of Generals / Politicians rousing their troops / people with outrageous tosh before sending them off to be mown down as they mouth revolutionary slogans.
No wonder the Japanese overan the Chinese a few years later; the Communists,the Nationalists and the Warlords were intent on destroying each other even when they were on the same side.
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on 6 November 2011
Video has severe edge enhancement halos. Black levels are poor.
Audio has a lack of punch, no noticeable use of rear speakers.
Several good character scenes (flag guy at the end, chappy running around with the rifles and punishment of hat murderer), a couple of good battle scenes. Generally uninvolving.
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on 22 November 2016
as described,very quick in the post
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on 31 January 2014
Early years of the struggles of the Red Army,rather heavy going.Much is lost in the transilation, but,the hardships of the common people comes across,well.
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on 7 September 2014
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