East Palace West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) (Behind the Forbidden City) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

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

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½ December 20, 2012
Stagey and arty-farty.
½ September 27, 2010
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.
August 11, 2009
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.
February 25, 2009
An interesting small glimpse into another world. The story is quite slow and the imagery a S&M fantasy.
January 20, 2008
As always tabus, hate, love. Desire of be with someone, no matter danger, discrimination. The search of love is always painful, but better never get it, to wait in the chair.
October 19, 2007
Like its name Behind the Foridden City, this movie has been foriddened for more than 10 years. Read the original novel before by Wang Xiao Bo. Zhang Yuan knew what was the gay life in China like but he didn't really know about what a gay looks like. anyway, this in one of the first released gay film here. It is a view-changing piece. He told people in Chian: There "are" gays in our country.
October 4, 2007
First openly gay film in China - I didn't find the film amazing but it made me want to read Wang Xiaobo's book... hopefully someday when my Chinese gets better.
September 26, 2007
A groundbreaking film about the plight of gay people in China. Deeply moving with realistic and intelligent dialogue and characters you can empathize with. Highly recommended viewing.
July 20, 2007
I've seen this once years ago. I remember several scenes, an example is the main character found in the park wears a red dress. This was a good movie; the storyline was interesting. I like the interaction between the cop who is doing his job and the young man being who he is. Their opposite aspects create communication between them which then they try to understand each other.
June 16, 2007
The first Chinese film to deal with homosexuality? Possibly. Even if it isn't, its still a masterpiece.
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