Beijing Bicycle Reviews
May 7, 2007
In Beijing the bicycle is everything. This sad movie focuses on one bike and the part it plays in the lives of two young characters - one trying to make a living, the other trying to gain respect amongst his peers.
September 11, 2008
The ideal inheritor of De Sica's Bicycle Thief,erupts as a serious contender against composing deals,circumstantial notions and a willing contradiction of ideas.Xiaoshuai is a very underrated Chinese modern trespasser of independent film-making and he sure knows to catch our breath with the flamboyance of his people and characteristics of their self.The finale is amidst the top of 00's.
April 25, 2008
Guei (Cui Lin) is a young, new arrival to Beijing from the countryside, simple-minded but stubborn and strong-willed, taking on a job with a courier service that provides him with a bike in addition to pay--a bike that he must, nevertheless, earn with his job. He happily makes his way around performing his job, at nights discussing the approaching ownership of the bike with his friend and housemate Mantis (Liu Lei). He is happy with this job, even though it only pays 20% until he earns the bike (thereafter earning 50% of the delivery fees), but remains as simple as he began--when he attempts to deliver one letter, he is misdirected by hotel staff into going through a shower, eventually having to argue his way out of paying for it, which he is less than good at--simply repeating his occupation and saying he didn't intend to use it until he was directed, thankfully saved by the hotel's manager--intended recipient of his letter--who pities him and sends him on his way. Unfortunately, his way has been stolen--in the hundreds of thousands of bikes in Beijing, his was stolen at this time, which leaves him searching endlessly and dejected. He returns to his manager (Xie Jian) and begs to keep his job. Of course, his job is impossible without a bike, and he was caught up in his distress over that loss and nearly forgot to deliver his last message for the day. Consequently his manager, of course, fires him--but the simplistic Guei suggests that if he can find his bike--obviously a ridiculous condition--he should be able to return to his job. The manager chuckles a bit at this absurd idea, but says, effectively, "Why not?" and that if he indeed can find it, the job is his.
Meanwhile, student Jian (Li Bin) is seen with his friends practicing freestyle bicycling* in a building under construction, they commenting on his new bike, asking if his father had indeed finally bought him one. Indeed, though, this is not the object of his new bicycle ownership--Xiao (Yuanyuan Gao) is the pretty schoolgirl he wants to impress, and being able to ride a bike with her seems like the best way to do it. When we see him ride off, it is with a sense of final freedom, as if he is feeling something he has never felt or experienced before. Xiao does indeed ride with him and even goes with him to sit in the woods. Unfortunately, Mantis has noticed Jian in passing, and unbeknownst to the two lovebirds, Guei has snuck up and discovered that it is indeed his bike, complete with the marks he made on the back above the wheel. He makes off with it, but Jian manages to catch him doing so and chases him down.
Now it becomes a contest between the two to prove who rightfully owns the bike, with Jian having the backing of his friends, and Guei having only his negligble--often miserably underused, even as lame as they are--debating skills.
I almost hated this movie. The treatment Jian's friends give to Guei, the sense of entitlement Jian has offended me pretty violently--but in retrospect that came to be a positive, as the story unfolded and showed me the error of my perceptions and went in unexpected directions. Suddenly Jian and Guei were both understandable and sympathetic characters--though some actions by Jian remained indefensible in my mind. But, as I've found with much of eastern "literate" cinema (as opposed to the action variety) there is a tendency toward an observant eye in the camera, rather than a judgmental one (or perhaps the judgment is better seen through an Eastern cultured eye, I can't be sure of that) and I struggled to stop judging the film for the nature of one of its characters, but the treatment of Guei despite his intentions and limited social--or more importantly, societal--skills were heartbreaking. But this just speaks to the skill and emotion built so firmly into the film, with beautifully detached cinematography and a wonderful soundtrack that manages to encompass both ambient music and completely rhythm-oriented music, a fascinating dichotomy to represent the opposing moods of complacence and violent conflict.
A fascinating and interesting movie with a very strong and interesting message about class and materialist status symbols, but a difficult one to watch, I found.
*Honestly, this has got to be one of the dumbest looking sports I've ever seen.
May 30, 2007
This movie is labeled as starring Zhou Xun, but she is such a minor character that I would not even call her a supporting actress really. The story is heartbreaking and interesting but like many Chinese films just ends with no positive resolution at the end. Very sad.
November 16, 2006
This movie was so hard to watch. Another one that requires your total emotional investment. Lets talk about strength of will.
October 28, 2006
Recuerdo cuando me robaron una bicicleta, fue como un dardo en el corazon. Asi que entiendo perfectamente a este chico obsesionado con la suya. Una historia de amistad muy original, con buenas actuaciones y una cara de Beijing que no vemos con frecuencia, la de las calles, los barrios, su gente.
June 13, 2006
A very simple story that keep me totally interested. I cried at the end because the boy's dreams of a better life were destroyed by the selfish higher class boy.
May 27, 2006
A story compelling enough for it's theme of a tenacious struggle to succeed, yet magnified by the director's eye for revealing the story.
June 1, 2007
We all know a bicycle can get us from point A to B, but this film tells us a tale how bicycle can get you to fall in love, help you find the truth of a mysterious girl, help you form a friendship, and get you into trouble that may cause you your life. A marvelous film.
November 22, 2010
A lowly rural newcomer to Beijing lands a job with a bicycle delivery service. Just as he is about to pay off the debt incurred for the company bike, it is stolen. Class differences in China are played out around the stubborn quest to reclaim said bike. This film is nothing to write home about, but it does have a certain charm to it. The central idea is solid, as is the execution - there isn't enough meat the bones though, there's a depth somewhere thats lacking. Nonetheless its very watchable and riffs off the the classical Italian art-house film 'The Bicycle Thief'
July 7, 2010
Xiaoshuai Wang's indirect homage to De Sica's Bicycle Thieves is a mildly interesting tale. The film follows two protagonists; a poor slum kid named Guo (Lin Cui) with a new job to deliver mail and a new bicycle, and a high school boy of around 15 named Jian (Bin Li), who is having some problems at home when it comes to getting his dad to buy him a bicycle (they are kind of poor).
The film isn't so piercingly real or really deep or anything. It takes a look at social conditions but doesn't say anything too deep about the people in the story. It's more enjoyable from an action perspective, and less with the ideas it's presenting. The whole situation with Guo and his boss after he loses his bicycle is depicted in a funny and sad way; Guo's journey in the rest of the film is to find his bike and save his job; his boss tells him if he can do this, he can keep his job.
We meet Jian and he has a bike, which looks just like the one Guo lost. Jian's story starts as out as a budding romance with a schoolmate named Xiao. She and he bike around together and whatnot and he is beginning to feel something for her, and perhaps she may be as well. This part of the story is one of the weaker elements, the grade-school romance or whatever you want to call it. Thankfully, Guo finds this bike in the hands of Jian, and the rest of the film becomes mostly a back and forth battle for ownership of the bike, which rapidly spirals out of control. Jian says he didn't steal the bike and that he got it some other way, but Guo is certain it is his stolen bike. The romance takes a back seat, but for some reason or another Wang can't seem to get rid of it completely or focus on it enough to give it any real emotional investment.
Jian's friends are like a school gang, a pretty petty one that will use 5 on 1 attacks to make their point. The film devolves pretty quickly into repetition once this group of kids is introduced halfway through, and I felt the story handed over its subtlety and its social class/economic message when it got too deep into the teen angst/ teen anger area. I admired the film more when it was about the bike, and the desperation of finding it. That is what makes Guo's parts of the film the best, because he wants the bike at all costs, both for personal fulfillment and to keep his job (which supplied him with the bike in the first place). He is still a pretty simple and non-verbal character with little of interest to say, but that's why his actions and motivations keep the interest going, because he's not a character we rely on for deep vocal insights.
When the film makes a return to the relationship I felt cheated and short-changed again. Jian's bike obsession and his naivety in relationships have caused Xian to distance herself from him. She moves on, but he can't. I wasn't sold on how the film ended, even though it was mildly interesting and enjoyable. The film turns toward an inexplicable showcase of violence from various directions, and I was scratching my head trying to answer the question "Is this just violence for the sake of violence, or is there some meaning?" I concluded that perhaps there was a meaning to the violence however vague it may be, but that it nonetheless seemed idiotic no matter how you sliced it. The characters all devolve toward the simplest possible motivations, including the two protagonists, which really aren't very likeable to begin with, and who I felt pretty indifferent towards by the end as well; and thats after both of them go through hell.
The camera shows some flavourful visuals of Beijing, the layout of some of the slums are explored in some chase scenes and some biking scenes. I was actually more interested in the little details of the city and the small crevices explored than I was with much of the story. This isn't a bad film, it just could have been way better. It lingers on the surface too often, and when it dives it seems only comfortable in the shallow end.
September 25, 2005
I have writtnn in this journal in a month, just haent been in the writing mood..........and school has fried my brain :S.
Beijing Bicycle is a great movie, although its mostly in subtitles you can understand most of it. Good movie so watch it or whatever.