The Flowers of War


The Flowers of War

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Reviews Counted: 57

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Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

In 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China's capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls. Struggling to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army, it is an act of heroism which eventually leads the seemingly disparate group to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone. -- (C) Wrekin Hill

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Christian Bale
as John Miller
Shigeo Kobayashi
as Lieutenant Kato
Dawei Tong
as Major Li
Cao Kefan
as Mr. Meng

Critic Reviews for The Flowers of War

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (18)

  • Bale is forthright and emotional in the role, and with a hint of boyish vulnerability, even reminds us of his 13-year-old self in Spielberg's Empire of the Sun.

    Aug 2, 2012 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Zhang's flamboyant camera choreography and diva-ish flounces of melodrama are vivid but misplaced.

    Jul 31, 2012 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • "The Flowers of War" seems like a pretty good film until you begin to think about it.

    Mar 29, 2012 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • An unsettling mixture of spectacular brutality and sentimentality that might make even Steven Spielberg blush.

    Feb 24, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The director's grip on the drama is often weakened by his penchant for creating spectacles.

    Feb 23, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The Nanjing massacre is still a running sore in China's 20th century history, and Zhang is brave to take it on.

    Feb 14, 2012 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Flowers of War


With astonishing visuals and an impeccable sound design, this compelling war film constitutes, however, an oxymoron of gorgeous ugliness, centered on a most hideous massacre of History whose re-creation needed no stylistic ornaments or artificial revelations.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


A glimpse of WWII in China through one fallen city, Nanking. Great Film! It's a great movie, very touching. The background is Nanking Massacre, at that cruel and desperate history moment, the director finds a special perspective to show us goodness, hope, sacrifice and humanity. Although I've seen so many war movies before, this one is different. There is no positive way to spin what was a shameful event in Japan's history, and for what it's worth I think that Zhang Yimou delineates well the soldiers occasional insecurity, homesickness, and humanisation brought on by paranoia and pressure from above. A movie well-worth watching, and which I would like to watch for a second time to re- establish which moment are intentionally humorous, which moments are unintentionally humorous, and which moments are tragic. Kudos for Zhang Yimou for tackling such a visited topic (That of the Nanjing massacre) which a freshness, and even more kudos to Christian Bale for stepping up to the plate and giving in a great performance. In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John (Christian Bale) arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Chinese historical drama war film is definitely worth seeing with British actor Christian Bale. Emotionally and powerful. Highly recommended. The story is about how a dozen of prostitutes saved girl students from uncivilized Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing (Nanking) massacre period, set in 1937. The director Yimou Zhang told a powerful, touching and beautiful story, while delivering stunning visual effects as always. All actors from different countries did an amazing job in making so many strong characters in 3 languages, not just the American 'priest', but also those prostitutes, the boy George, all the children, Japanese officers, and the Chinese 'traitor'. Bale made an excellent performance in this Chinese film and a Chinese leading actress, Ni Ni, is new face and became a new "Mou girl" like Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

I thought this was a very good war-time film about an unusual/unexpected situatuion. Ni Ni's performance was solid. Bale's characted didn't have much of an opportunity to shine, however.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

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