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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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First let me get my gripes out of the way: my copy is marketed by Revolver Entertainment and is 136 minutes long,not 146 minutes as advertised on Amazon's product description.
The dvd jacket states subtitles are in English:yes there are English subtitles but ONLY to cover the dialogue that is in Chinese/Mandarin and/or Japanese, NOT for the English spoken for much of the film.As much as I admire the Chinese actors for their ability to speak in English I found it difficult to follow at times.It was a bit Benny Hill-esque to my ear.

The film itself is magnificent.I have seen City of Life & Death [DVD] and City Of War: The Story of John Rabe [DVD] which are extremely harrowing,with little respite from depicting the horrors of the occupation of Nanking by the Japanese.

This film manages to show some humour and compassion as well as the extradordinary horrors experienced by the Chinese.

As such it can draw a much wider audience to see this terrible event in 20th century history.Even my wife was impressed with the production watching with me.

I've always wondered how and why the Japanese have gotten away with the atrocities committed during this pre-WW2 battle and occupation; perhaps the treatment of our own prisoners of war during the larger war overshadowed Nanking's massacre.The scale of the rapes and killings have never matched the supposed justice meted out after the war against the little men behind the sun.
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on 26 September 2015
Set during the 30s Japanese invasion of China, the film retells the true story of how a group of prostitutes and convent girls hid in a convent during the 'rape' of Nanking to escape the rampage of the Imperial Army, and how, despite their differences, one group was willing to make a terrible sacrifice for the sake of the other.

While heavy handed, 'Flowers of War' is one of the better foreign epics of recent times by comparison to duds like 'For Greater Glory' and 'There Be Dragons'. Not just because of production values and scope to rival any Hollywood production, the battles being exceptionally bloody, grimey and tense while the city genuinely looks like war torn ruins, but in a fairly strong cast with a genuine sense of camaraderie. Despite being top billed, the show stealing is done not by a grizzled, weasely Bale as a mortician turned priest who acts as the women's guardian, though he is still solid, but by the ragtag group of prostitutes who grow a heart and become almost big sisters to the sheltered convent girls. You get your mix of the loveable goofballs, the stuck up snobs, the needy ones and then the sultry, determined leader of the group (played by Ni Ni) but none ever feel like obnoxious caricatures and the actresses make them very endearing.

Also, the film is not exceptionally focused on religion despite the setting, thus allowing us more to focus on human nature and individual willpower as opposed to some hamfisted 'divinity' that would typically crop up in this sort of story. However, strength of characterisation is not universal; the Japanese are cartoonish monsters, most of their dialogue composed of animalistic snarls and grunts, there is rather redundant narration from a future version of one of the girls that never amounts to much, and to say the film is subtle in its symbolism is a gross understatement. However, I still have to give 'Flowers' props for not being a bunch of pompous ballyhoo, and actually having some genuine merits to make it a capably emotional journey, if a sometimes ungraceful one.
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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.
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on 17 October 2015
Nanking 1937 and the Japanese are taking over the city with a ferocity that leaves very little of the city and people to tell the tale. Told from the view point of a young student at the Catholic Church school who watches the priest be killed? and has to struggle to survive with the help of an American expat Mortician ( Christian Bale) and a group of ladies of leisure who seek sanctuary in the church. The tale is not one for the feint hearted and selected scenes of violence etc are graphic and leave little to the imagination. Apart from Mr Bale the cast were Asian and subtitles were provided when they spoke in their native tongue. The pity was we did not have sub titles for Mr Bale at the start of the film who was very hard to understand. Interesting film but only one for those who have an interest in the subject matter!
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on 2 April 2015
OMG!! This is truly one of the most emotional films I have ever seen, from start to finish you will be glued to your tv set, Christian Bale is amazing in his role and makes you ask yourself what would you do if you were in his shoes.An amazing story line well acted and very powerful scenes you will most certainly need your tissues at the ready, from start to finish you will be so moved that this film will stay with you for a long long time absolutely brilliant movie makes you realise how precious life really is!!
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on 14 December 2013
Its a touching movie,really underrated,watch it before judging!A great story,thrilling performances and a beautiful cinematography!Highly recommendable,you should watch of the most incredible stories ever told!
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on 20 July 2015
Disturbing but riveting, good cast doing a great job of replicating an horrific chapter in the history of China probably should be rated 18 in my opinion.The young Chinese actors are very good out performing Christian Bale in most of the scenes recommended as unmissable
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on 17 May 2015
I absolutely loved this film and can't understand how I missed seeing it. A good solid story with great acting and a very touching story, my attention never strayed as I was riveted from the beginning. It does have brutal moments but then the story is set in brutal times, it is a story of selflessness.
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Flowers of War isn't exactly an easy watch. It tells the story of a group of convent girls trapped in a Catholic Church and held hostage by the Japanese during the Nanking massacre of 1937. Although it makes for uncomfortable viewing at times, ultimately it is a very rewarding watch.

Based on a true story it's a story of human resilience, sacrifice, ingenuity and ultimately triumph. The horrors of war and impact on the civilian population as Japan seize the Chinese capital are frankly addressed and brutally depicted; as are the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit, along with extreme examples of it at its best and it's most horrific.

Although I've given this 4 stars it is, in a lot of ways, a 5 star film. Although the war ravaged scenery isn't exactly beautiful in the conventional sense, it is stunning to see on screen. And with Bale cast in the central role there is of course plenty of superb acting throughout.

The rest of the cast don't quite live up to the same standard as Christian, but you can't help but become emotionally involved in their story and the predicament they find themselves in all the same - this is one of those stories, so intense is its nature, it crosses cultural boundaries and resonates on some deeper level of humanity.

Overall it's a very good film. I don't want to use the world enjoyable, as somehow that doesn't seem right given its contents and subject matter, but as the mixed cast play out the tale of events, it's easy to see why they're events that have gone down in Chinese folklore.

The Bluray, as a whole is very good - the picture and sound are perfect (although apparently in the wrong picture ratio, but I didn't notice this and only found out reading some reviews here) and there are a few interesting extras, such as a very revealing interview with Christian Bale which give you a small insight into some of the ways this man works to pull of off his incredible performances.
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on 13 September 2015
it brings the massacre of Nanking back to life again but it is so masterly done that one does not want to tune into anger but rather love and self-sacrifice. Christian Bale is brilliant and adds so much human touch to this story.
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