East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City) (1998)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City) Videos

East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City) Photos

Movie Info

The title is Chinese slang for the bathrooms located at Tiannamen Square, favorite haunts of Beijing gays. Primarily a psychological drama, it centers on a verbal cat and mouse game played between a gay writer and the straight policeman who arrests and interrogates him.
Rating:
PG (violence)
Genre:
Art House & International , Drama , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Strand Releasing

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Cast

Jun Hu
as Xiao Shi
Si Han
as A Lan
Liu Yuxiao
as Female Thief
Ma Wen
as Yamen Runner
Quan An Wang
as A-Lan, as a Boy
Ye Jing
as A-Lan, as a Youth
Wei Zhao
as Streetcar
Lu Rong
as A-Lan's Mother
Rhona Mitra
as Sheherazade
Nicholas Irons
as Ali Baba
Aharon Ipalé
as Aladdin
Diana Kent
as Jasmine
Roger Ennals
as Koos Koos
Gordon Winter
as Hummis
Neil Conrich
as Rishad
John Toles-Bey
as Charley
Gary Epp
as Mr. Knockbest
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Critic Reviews for East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City)

All Critics (5)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Though too verbose and static, it's the first film to deal explicitly with gay life in China, and as such adds a panel to the growing body of movies about sexual politics in rigid societies.

Full Review… | July 2, 2011
EmanuelLevy.Com

Sua inegável relevância política e social (especialmente à época de seu lançamento) infelizmente não se traduz em qualidade narrativa.

April 27, 2009
Cinema em Cena

Audience Reviews for East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City)

½

The first openly gay film to come out of Communist China is a good choice for the Valentines Day couple looking for a little more titillation than romance. This 1996 flick is disconcertingly strange, with a ponderous pace and a fixation on light sado-masochism, but it’s still hauntingly absorbing. A policeman (Jun) arrests a gay man (Han) caught prowling a public park after dark for sex. The officer basically molests and humiliates the man, ostensibly hoping to scare him away from public sex and his “despicable” sexual orientation. But the victim senses something about the cop and arranges to get caught a second time. The policeman takes the prisoner back to his park-side headquarters and starts to question him about his homosexual past and predilections, asking for vivid details. Though the arc of the story holds few surprises, the way it’s told is oddly alluring. The gay man senses his tale has some power over the officer, so he divulges information in spurts, jumping from story to story and throwing in Chinese folklore. Every so often, the gruff cop gets fed up and abuses the gay man, who we sense wanted it all along. It’s mild torture as aphrodisiac, replete with the occasional goofy, over-the-top sexual symbolism. (The prisoner is punished with a hose at one point, get it?) Still, East Palace, West Palace is told with skill and subtle friction, turning the power of Chinese brutality into a method of subversive sexual arousal.

Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller

Yuan Zhang's 4th feature. A very beautiful and philosophical dailogue drama between a gay guy and a cop whom he loves. Through the conversation between them at the interrogation at midnight police station, it questions us what is our dignity, what is love, and what is something we just cannot say right or wrong. Despite its minimal number of characters, its theme is deep. The screenplay and cinematography which make the most of natural lights are great. What is the best of this films is sound design - music and sound FXs are used very effectively to describe characters' mentality, to make us feel tension and excitement, and to add some mysterious mood. Si Han (the gay guy) and Jun Hu (the cop), their performances are really superb. Yuan Zhang shows his real ability when he chooses a controversial topic like this one. Described in this film are modern China's doubt, rip current, conflict betwen old and new morals, and something universal. This sincerity of the film moves me.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

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