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24 City (Er shi si cheng ji) (2008)

tomatometer

91

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 3

One of China's most talented directors blurs the lines between non-fiction, drama, and musical theater in this vivid portrait of a country in cultural flux.

85

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 2

One of China's most talented directors blurs the lines between non-fiction, drama, and musical theater in this vivid portrait of a country in cultural flux.

audience

69

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 1,071

My Rating

Movie Info

Chengdu, nowadays. The state-owned factory 420 shuts down to give way to a complex of luxury apartments called "24 City." Three generations, eight characters: old workers, factory executives and yuppies, their stories are the History of China.

Jan 12, 2010

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (3) | DVD (2)

The film takes on an operatic feel, moving between euphoria for the new and lament for the lost.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The director has an exquisite eye that keeps getting stronger and subtler. He trusts that beauty is vagueness's alluring upside.

August 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

24 City won't change the minds of detractors -- it is his most painfully slow yet -- but it might change the minds of his supporters, including this critic, for Jia attempts something that is, in the end, unforgivable.

July 31, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is surprisingly engrossing -- even lively, due in part to brief musical numbers inserted amid the interviews.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Jia is an artist, one of the most interesting filmmakers working anywhere in the world, and he made his film to bear witness to a way of life while witnesses could still be found.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The actors in 24 City, an experimental fiction-nonfiction hybrid, bring their own existential realities to their short, touching performances.

June 5, 2009
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Zhangke never hints much about politics ... His is more the story of ordinary people caught up in history and still determined to live their lives as well as they can. It's both relevant and resonant.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

History weaves in and out of faces that purl their monologues -- real or scripted -- as Jia presents the past as a giant, invisible river.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

An intriguing hybrid of fiction and documentary, this film chronicles the dismantling of a notorious factory in Chengdu to make way for a new luxury community. It's skilfully assembled, but a bit dry for Western audiences.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Punctuated with eyebrow-raising poems about aeronautics factories, its treacle-paced obliqueness will frustrate some viewers. But the pay-off's a layered, haunting portrait of China in its shift to a capitalist economy.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A deeply serious and sombre film, trying to find a way of telling the stories of people affected by the gigantic political and economic changes sweeping that country whose concerns must in the end affect us all: 21st-century China.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Enthralling, beguiling and haunting.

April 30, 2010
Little White Lies

Chinese arthouse fixture Jia Zhang Ke looks at the closure of a state-owned factory in Chengdu, combining real interviews with awkwardly am-dram mock ones.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Reflective historical documentary on ordinary Chinese workers.

January 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

As far as nonfiction goes, you probably won't seen anything else this year so beautifully filmed.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

This blending of the truth and invention is a key plank of Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke's work, which skates so close to documentary it is hard to spot the join.

June 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Compelling and provocative with powerful images and quietly moving interviews that shed light on impact of social, economical and political changes on factory workers in China.

June 7, 2009 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

Jia Zhangke uses documentary and narrative storytelling in "24 City," an extraordinary chronicling of how deconstruction of an aviation factory in Chengdu, China, effects the lives of 30,000 workers for whom the factory was not just a job, but a way of li

June 6, 2009 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

becomes whatever the viewer wants it to be.

June 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for 24 City (Er shi si cheng ji)

Thankfully, "24 City" is not a continuation of the television series "24." All kidding aside, it is easier to describe what "24 City" is not, than what it is. Ostensibly, it is about the tearing down of Factory 420 in Chengdu City in order to make way for luxury apartments. That is only a starting point for an exploration of the recent history of China as it has moved from a country always on a war footing to one that is now ruled by capital, with the airplanes once made in the factory now museum pieces. This is told through static interviews with former workers, managers and others involved in the factory, the last of whom being Su Na(Tao Zhao), a professional shopper who frequently travels to Hong Kong for her clients.

And as you can see and I have read elsewhere, some of these subjects are played by actors and I am not really sure which ones are which. One interviewee, Gu Minhua, who claims she was once compared to Joan Chen is actually Joan Chen. So, basically, "24 City" sits on the edge of documentary and experiment, not totally successful, that maybe should have been attempted on a stage, instead.
December 22, 2010
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Compelling story of a decision to destroy a long time munitions factory to make way for a condo development. It is a story that is told worldwide as politics and economics change. Would merit a higher rating but the director chose to use both real former factory workers and actors. The result is slightly disjointed and a bit misleading.
January 5, 2011
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • 24 City (FR)
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