Beijing za zhong (Beijing Bastards) Reviews

  • Jul 09, 2010

    Few movies capture the zeitgeist like Zhang Yuan's Beijing Bastards does. In the hiatus between the crushed student movement and the consumerism to be, these youths drift along the dirty Beijing streets bitterly and seemingly without aim. But in a climate where political resistance isn't an option, the underground movement continues in other areas, such as music, painting and poetry, sending creative sparks through society. Mostly just trying to hustle to survive, there's a very thin line between these artists and musicians and the common thugs who often cross their paths. Watching Beijing Bastards I'm constantly reminded of Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style, with which it shares the semi-documentary style and the hopeful joy of the performers.

    Few movies capture the zeitgeist like Zhang Yuan's Beijing Bastards does. In the hiatus between the crushed student movement and the consumerism to be, these youths drift along the dirty Beijing streets bitterly and seemingly without aim. But in a climate where political resistance isn't an option, the underground movement continues in other areas, such as music, painting and poetry, sending creative sparks through society. Mostly just trying to hustle to survive, there's a very thin line between these artists and musicians and the common thugs who often cross their paths. Watching Beijing Bastards I'm constantly reminded of Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style, with which it shares the semi-documentary style and the hopeful joy of the performers.

  • Jul 23, 2009

    This is a temporary rating, since I did not watch this film in an appropriate condition (watched with a probably-Taiwanese low quality copy). I have never seen or heard of a legal DVD or VCR copy of this film has ever been in store because of the very complicated background of the film. This film, directed by Youn Zhang, is historically very important piece as one of the first films produced independently and by the 6th generation of Chinese directors (Yimou Zhang, Kaige Chan, etc. are the 5th generation). The government, however, banned the film because of its socially controversial theme and shooting without permission in central Beijing and never allowed to show it domestically. Beijing Bastards is an important film not only in terms of its value as a record but also as a Chinese film which has completely new style (strongly influenced by Italian New Realism and French New Wave as other the 6th generation directors also are) which blurs the borderline of fiction and documentary. It is also valuable, for it catches the air of Beijing city of a certain period of time (early 90s) really well with featuring newborn Chinese rock'n'roll music. The legendary Chinese Rock singer, Jian Cui, produces and performs live shows in the film. Although his appearance is not related to the story, which is mainly about few young people in Beijing struggling to settle down, lyrics and melodies of his songs hightens the mood of sorrow and melancholia that the young in the city have. The live sequence, however, lacks strength, and the attempt to get rid of mainstream storytelling and acting is not really successful in the film, and it often confuses audiences, although it is probably because I am not Chinese. What is common in films by the 6yth generation directors is that they are sincerely trying to record and deal with the reality, mostly the dark side of it, and thus, they are very for Chinese people to watch. They are films by and for Chinese people. It is sad to see the government keeping banning these films. Hope somebody will restore and release this film as soon as possible.

    This is a temporary rating, since I did not watch this film in an appropriate condition (watched with a probably-Taiwanese low quality copy). I have never seen or heard of a legal DVD or VCR copy of this film has ever been in store because of the very complicated background of the film. This film, directed by Youn Zhang, is historically very important piece as one of the first films produced independently and by the 6th generation of Chinese directors (Yimou Zhang, Kaige Chan, etc. are the 5th generation). The government, however, banned the film because of its socially controversial theme and shooting without permission in central Beijing and never allowed to show it domestically. Beijing Bastards is an important film not only in terms of its value as a record but also as a Chinese film which has completely new style (strongly influenced by Italian New Realism and French New Wave as other the 6th generation directors also are) which blurs the borderline of fiction and documentary. It is also valuable, for it catches the air of Beijing city of a certain period of time (early 90s) really well with featuring newborn Chinese rock'n'roll music. The legendary Chinese Rock singer, Jian Cui, produces and performs live shows in the film. Although his appearance is not related to the story, which is mainly about few young people in Beijing struggling to settle down, lyrics and melodies of his songs hightens the mood of sorrow and melancholia that the young in the city have. The live sequence, however, lacks strength, and the attempt to get rid of mainstream storytelling and acting is not really successful in the film, and it often confuses audiences, although it is probably because I am not Chinese. What is common in films by the 6yth generation directors is that they are sincerely trying to record and deal with the reality, mostly the dark side of it, and thus, they are very for Chinese people to watch. They are films by and for Chinese people. It is sad to see the government keeping banning these films. Hope somebody will restore and release this film as soon as possible.

  • Mar 15, 2008

    This is regarded as the breakthrough movie of the so called sixth generation of Chinese movie makers. The sixth generation was born, when movie equipment became cheaper and smaller and the Chinese government relaxed controls on movie making. This allowed new 'outsiders' to produce movies. They did much of these under the radar of the government and got into trouble later, when they tried to get the movies into circulation. A lot of the movies got banned in China, so it was established quite early that the main audiences and even the main sources of finance were going to be foreign. Somewhere along the way the sixth generation movies began reflecting that situation to some degree as the movies weren't made for Chinese audiences anymore. This is one of the first movies of that movement and so is more authentic in a way than the later productions even though even this received Dutch financing. This movie is also notable in that it got banned in China, yet the people involved in its production didn't get blacklisted, but were able to continue making movies in China. The movie itself tells of a group of young men. None of them have a future in sight and none of them feel that the current society is there for them. They lash out or withdraw into their own world of parties and rock. The movie is cut into a disjointed collection of scenes interlaced with footage from concerts. It is somewhat difficult to piece the scenes together to form complete stories of them, but the stories are there. This style of editing fits well with the movie, since the stories told in this way don't have a beginning or an ending or a direction either. All the characters are walking against the wind as the rock singer played by Jian Cui, so passionately tells us through his song. The characters don't belong and they are lost. The feelings of anger, repression, powerlessness and wasted lives come through very lively. A very nice movie.

    This is regarded as the breakthrough movie of the so called sixth generation of Chinese movie makers. The sixth generation was born, when movie equipment became cheaper and smaller and the Chinese government relaxed controls on movie making. This allowed new 'outsiders' to produce movies. They did much of these under the radar of the government and got into trouble later, when they tried to get the movies into circulation. A lot of the movies got banned in China, so it was established quite early that the main audiences and even the main sources of finance were going to be foreign. Somewhere along the way the sixth generation movies began reflecting that situation to some degree as the movies weren't made for Chinese audiences anymore. This is one of the first movies of that movement and so is more authentic in a way than the later productions even though even this received Dutch financing. This movie is also notable in that it got banned in China, yet the people involved in its production didn't get blacklisted, but were able to continue making movies in China. The movie itself tells of a group of young men. None of them have a future in sight and none of them feel that the current society is there for them. They lash out or withdraw into their own world of parties and rock. The movie is cut into a disjointed collection of scenes interlaced with footage from concerts. It is somewhat difficult to piece the scenes together to form complete stories of them, but the stories are there. This style of editing fits well with the movie, since the stories told in this way don't have a beginning or an ending or a direction either. All the characters are walking against the wind as the rock singer played by Jian Cui, so passionately tells us through his song. The characters don't belong and they are lost. The feelings of anger, repression, powerlessness and wasted lives come through very lively. A very nice movie.

  • Dec 05, 2007

    The Chinese version of "The Year That Punk Broke" with the Godfather of Chinese rock Cui Jian and his friends telling it like it was in the establishment of the Beijing rock scene in the early 90's. Very cool, almost too cool for this laowi who was mostly confused at the storyline that comes second to the classic rockumentary this film is. Great soundtrack and some very cool scenes of Beijing before the skyscrapers arrived.

    The Chinese version of "The Year That Punk Broke" with the Godfather of Chinese rock Cui Jian and his friends telling it like it was in the establishment of the Beijing rock scene in the early 90's. Very cool, almost too cool for this laowi who was mostly confused at the storyline that comes second to the classic rockumentary this film is. Great soundtrack and some very cool scenes of Beijing before the skyscrapers arrived.