Aftershocks (Tangshan dadizhen) (2010)



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Two natural disasters frame a story of a mother, her children and a painful decision that scars them forever in this grand-scale drama from China. In 1976, Li Yuanni (Xu Fan) is living in the city of Tangshan with her two children, seven year old twins Fang Da and Fang Deng. The family's life is simple but full of joy until a massive earthquake levels the city and leaves a swath of destruction in its wake. Amidst the wreckage, Li Yuanni discovers both Fang Da and Fang Deng are caught under a concrete slab, and if enough is broken to rescue one of the children, it would tip the balance and crush the other. Li Yuanni is asked which child should be saved, and she impulsively answers her son Fang Da. The boy is rescued, but the effort costs him his arm; meanwhile, the daughter Fang Deng is left for dead but miraculously survives, and is eventually adopted by another family without Li Yuanni's knowledge. The mother is forced to live with the shame of her decision, Fang Da grows to be a physically and emotionally broken man, and Fang Deng studies medicine, starts a family on her own and leaves China for Canada. It's not until 2008 that the story of the mother and the daughter she lost comes full circle in the wake of another earthquake in Sichuan. A massive commercial success in China, Tang Shan Da Di Zhen (aka Aftershock) made its North American debut at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Daoming Chen
as Wang Deqing
Fan Xu
as Li Yuanni
Jingchu Zhang
as Fang Deng
Chen Li
as Fang Da
Zi-feng Zhang
as Young Fang Deng
Jiajun Zhang
as Young Fang Da
Yi Lu
as Yang Zhi
Zhang Guoqiang
as Fang Daqiang
Ziwen Wang
as Xiao He
Lixin Yang
as Lao Niu
Lü Zhong
as Grandmother
Lili Liu
as Sichuan Mother
Jin Chen
as Dong Guilan
Baowen Zhang
as Wang Zhiguo's Wife
Qiuzi Ma
as Director Zhao
Yi Jing Lu
as Woman Teacher
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Critic Reviews for Aftershocks (Tangshan dadizhen)

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

There's no doubt about it: this film's an unashamed heart-wringer and a tear-jerker, but it packs an almighty punch and the CGI work at the very beginning, as Tangshan crumbles into nothingness, is impressive and pretty scary.

Nov 11, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Perfect hokum for those who don't mind having their heart strings strummed like a banjo.

Nov 10, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

The film may be a blunt instrument, but it's rarely maudlin -- the exception being the performance of Mr. Feng's wife, Fan Xu, as the long-suffering mother -- and is, on occasion, quite moving.

Nov 4, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

[An] involving, well-acted saga of a family torn apart by a devastating earthquake...

Oct 28, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Delivers what it promises, and at times more so. Xiaogang Feng manages to tell a touching story, whilst also expanding it to incorporate a larger tale of China and its people's survival through hardship.

Nov 6, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Mimics the worst of Hollywood's excesses, pairing gratuitous shock with patriotism and a flood of tear-jerking moments calculated for awards bodies' consideration.

Dec 1, 2010 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Aftershocks (Tangshan dadizhen)


A rather long, but well done, touching movie based around the 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China. Incredible story about the decisions a mother had to make in the aftermath, and the decisions each family member makes to pick up their lives, and move forward. I found the changes in the town, attire and vehicles as the decades progressed particularly interesting. The film did a good job of also showing how the rigid Maoist China gradually became more Westernized and materialistic, e.g. bicycles in the 1970's vs. BMW in the 2000's. Good job! (except the one Canadian actor that they could find. He was terrible, but thankfully was only in it for a minute).

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


A really heart breaking movie. Performance of each character was really good. Made me sad to tell you the truth.

Dead Angel
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

Tángsh?n Dàdìzhèn (aka "Aftershock" or "Aftershocks"), dedicated to 240,000 victims of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, claims to commemorate the rebirth and restoration of Tangshan. Now if only (presumably) good intentions were quite enough to make a good movie... Aftershock has a script that's not just been-there-seen-it-all one, but also a bit too messy. The movie works neither on personal account of any of the individual characters nor as a whole. Despite being stuffed with heavily emotional sequences, it failed to make me feel sympathetic enough to care for any of the characters, let alone bring a lump in my throat or shed a tear. With all due respect for the victims of the earthquake, this emotional drama (not a docu-drama) doesn't do justice to a movie-viewer. The actors seem competitive, but they could have succeeded in saving the shaky script only that far. I don't find "Tángsh?n Dàdìzhèn" recommendable enough, but being aware of my taste (which happens to fall in minority more often than not) I won't be shocked if you do. To start with, just look at the critical response it has received. It's not awful; it's just that it fell short of my expectations.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

It's surprising that still in the year 2010 some directors use some poor and out dated ideas for making a movie.Aftershocks, Despite of its expensive look is a sentimental trash.

Reza Mohseni
Reza Mohseni

Super Reviewer

Aftershocks (Tangshan dadizhen) Quotes

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