A WRITER’S ODYSSEY (2021) review

The third most successful film of Chinese New Year 2021, albeit a wide margin behind the first two, Lu Yang’s A Writer’s Odyssey (also known as Assassins in Red) follows Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin) a shell of a man desperately looking for his daughter, who was kidnapped six years before. One day, he’s approached by Tu Ling (Yang Mi), the mysterious right-hand woman of tech magnate Li Mu (Yu Hewei). Tu knows everything about Guan: not only his life’s tragedy, but also his almost paranormal abilities – to throw very precisely at impossible angles, to not feel pain… She tells him she has found the trace of his now teenage daughter, and can help him be reunited with her, if and only if he assassinates Lu Kongwen (Dong Zijian), the author of Godslayer, a fantasy novel being serialized on the net, and whose plot turns seem to have a direct effect on Li Mu’s health. In parallel, we follow the adventures of Kongwen (also Dong Zijian), Godslayer’s lead character, as he journeys through the war-torn kingdom of Ranliang to avenge his sister (a too briefly-seen Tong Liya) by killing the land’s evil despot Lord Redmane, protected by an army of red-armored assassins.

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THE SACRIFICE (2020) review

The Sacrifice was reportedly shot in three weeks (an impressively short timeframe for a war epic) with three high profile directors at the helm: Guan Hu hot off another war epic, The Eight Hundred (but not that hot off it, as the latter film was long-delayed), Lu Yang (mostly known for his outstanding Brotherhood of Blades diptych), and Frant Gwo (of the sci-fi mega-success The Wandering Earth). It is set during the Korean war, as the Chinese PVA (People’s Volunteer Army) prepares for the battle of Kumsong, in which it is to back the Korean People’s Army against the US forces. For that to happen, the PVA must cross the Kumsong bridge on time, and thus constantly defend it and rebuild it as the US air force bombs it mercilessly. Across four chapters, we follow the soldiers crossing the bridge, the US pilots attacking it, the anti-aircraft artillery defending it, and in the end the sacrifice of hundreds of Chinese men forming a human bridge to allow the troops to arrive on time to the battlefield.

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