City of Life and Death 2011

City of Life and Death

Critics Consensus

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92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 53

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,769
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Movie Info

The stories of a conflicted Japanese soldier (Hideo Nakaizumi) and a Chinese officer (Ye Liu) draw attention to the atrocities committed by Japanese forces during the 1937 occupation of Nanking.

Cast & Crew

Ye Liu
Lu Jianxiong
Yuanyuan Gao
Miss Jiang
Wei Fan
Mr. Tang
Yiyan Jiang
Xiao Jiang
Bin Liu
Xiaodouzi
Chuan Lu
Director
Chuan Lu
Screenwriter
Tong Liu
Original Music
Yu Cao
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for City of Life and Death

Critic Reviews for City of Life and Death

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (4)

  • It is not an easy film, and perhaps a touch too relentless, but it is a great reminder of how bloody, mad and awful this world can be.

    October 7, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Lu Chuan makes this feature film soar by telling the story both through the eyes of the Japanese occupiers and the defenseless Chinese civilians in the ancient capital. It makes the savagery all the more senseless.

    September 22, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Exquisitely shot in black and white, with a rare attention to detail and dramatic complexity, "City of Life and Death" is a timelessly great film that commands our collective attention.

    July 8, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • In almost any form, the story of the Nanking atrocities can leave you profoundly shaken. But Lu Chuan's version may be the most compassionate and emotionally satisfying treatment to date.

    July 7, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Here, in bloodless miniature, is the true obscenity of war.

    June 24, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • It's a film strong enough to change your life, if you can bear to watch it at all.

    June 17, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for City of Life and Death

  • Sep 29, 2013
    Disturbing. Intense. Sickening. This is one of the most harrowing, and unflinching, accounts of human barbarity ever put to film. Solidly done. Definitely not for the squeamish....
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2012
    I think it's worth noting that a film being shot in black and white in 2010 is both a ballsy move and one that pays off in the end as the theme of the film proves: war is rarely black and white. This may be one of the most visually effective films ever made.
    Jason 123 D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 20, 2012
    I finished watching this film two hours ago and the punch in the stomach I received watching it still hurts. I don't recall having received such a punch in my 40 or so years of film watching. Unlike films such as "Schindler's List" or "Empire of the Sun", this film does not take sides. It's like a candid camera operated by an invisible grand master hidden in the crowd or the rubble. It's just there recording events. As a result, despite the fact that it focuses on the big picture, the individual is not lost: Both the Chinese and the Japanese, each and every one of them, in huge crowds are real believable characters. This gives the viewer a grand and horrible sense of presence which is what makes it so painful. It would take courage to watch it again. 5 Stars. 8-7-12
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 26, 2012
    A refugee camp comes under siege from the Japanese army during the fall of Nanjing during the Second World War. Beautifully shot in black and white and telling the harrowing story of the mass murder and horrific mistreatment of the population of the Chinese capital, City Of Life And Death can be seen as China's equivalent to Schindler's List but I'd have to say that Spielberg's classic at least had a tale of heroism at its centre. The horrifying events depicted here have more in common with the likes of Downfall; the environment of Nanjing is so hellish, the closest we come to a "good guy" is a Nazi! Based on true events, I'm not sure how much of it is completely accurate as even this hardened cynic found it hard to believe that only a single Japanese soldier acted with conscience or compassion, but Hideo Nakaizumi's performance as the aforementioned protagonist, sickened and traumatised by the actions of his compatriots works well as a way to avoid demonizing the Japanese and as an objective standpoint through which to view the events as they unfold. One of those films that's powerful rather than enjoyable, City Of Life And Death is another in the line of beautifully crafted testaments to man's seemingly infinite capacity for inhumanity.
    xGary X Super Reviewer

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