The Flowers of War (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Flowers of War Videos & Photos

Movie Info

In 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China's capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the … More

Rating: R (for strong violence including a sexual assault, disturbing images, and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Liu Heng, Yan Geling
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 10, 2012
Box Office: $0.3M
Wrekin Hill Entertainment - Official Site


as John Miller

as Lieutenant Kato

as Yu Mo

as Major Li

as Colonel Hasegawa

as Mr. Meng
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Critic Reviews for The Flowers of War

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (16)

Zhang's flamboyant camera choreography and diva-ish flounces of melodrama are vivid but misplaced.

Full Review… | July 31, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

"The Flowers of War" seems like a pretty good film until you begin to think about it.

Full Review… | March 29, 2012
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

An unsettling mixture of spectacular brutality and sentimentality that might make even Steven Spielberg blush.

Full Review… | February 24, 2012
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The director's grip on the drama is often weakened by his penchant for creating spectacles.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Toronto Star
Top Critic

A florid, melodramatic tear-jerker of questionable taste but undeniable emotional impact.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

The filming techniques cross Saving Private Ryan with Zimou's own Hero and other dynastic, martial arts-driven Chinese epics.

Full Review… | September 12, 2012
Birmingham Post

Audience Reviews for The Flowers of War


A glimpse of WWII in China through one fallen city, Nanking.

Great Film! It's a great movie, very touching. The background is Nanking Massacre, at that cruel and desperate history moment, the director finds a special perspective to show us goodness, hope, sacrifice and humanity. Although I've seen so many war movies before, this one is different. There is no positive way to spin what was a shameful event in Japan's history, and for what it's worth I think that Zhang Yimou delineates well the soldiers occasional insecurity, homesickness, and humanisation brought on by paranoia and pressure from above. A movie well-worth watching, and which I would like to watch for a second time to re- establish which moment are intentionally humorous, which moments are unintentionally humorous, and which moments are tragic. Kudos for Zhang Yimou for tackling such a visited topic (That of the Nanjing massacre) which a freshness, and even more kudos to Christian Bale for stepping up to the plate and giving in a great performance.

In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer


With astonishing visuals and an impeccable sound design, this compelling war film constitutes though a paradox of gorgeous ugliness, centered on a most hideous massacre of History whose re-creation needed no stylistic ornaments or artificial revelations.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Chinese historical drama war film is definitely worth seeing with British actor Christian Bale. Emotionally and powerful. Highly recommended.
The story is about how a dozen of prostitutes saved girl students from uncivilized Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing (Nanking) massacre period, set in 1937.
The director Yimou Zhang told a powerful, touching and beautiful story, while delivering stunning visual effects as always. All actors from different countries did an amazing job in making so many strong characters in 3 languages, not just the American 'priest', but also those prostitutes, the boy George, all the children, Japanese officers, and the Chinese 'traitor'.
Bale made an excellent performance in this Chinese film and a Chinese leading actress, Ni Ni, is new face and became a new "Mou girl" like Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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