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RED CORNER

SYNOPSIS:
As general counsel to a large entertainment conglomerate, attorney Jack Moore (Richard Gere) has come to China to close the first satellite communications deal sanctioned by the Chinese government. But one night with an exotic beauty changes Jack’s predicament to one far from the controlled destiny to which he is accustomed. Arrested for a murder he did not commit, and abandoned by his American business colleagues, Jack’s only chance lies with his court-appointed defence advocate, Shen Yuelin (Bai Ling), who insists on filing a guilty plea, hoping her client will receive leniency for confessing, as opposed to severity - and a bullet - for claiming innocence. Working together, despite cultural differences, they make a formidable team, uncovering truths that have been hidden at high levels. It changes them both. Forever.

"As effectively as the simple tradition of serving tea, Red Corner clearly shows the vast chasm of difference in terms of custom, tradition and etiquette between American and Chinese cultures, in this absorbing thriller, raising issues of freedom, censorship and human rights. While Richard Gere no doubt had his own political reasons for being involved in the film, he displays the charisma and screen presence that has made him a major sex symbol. His public involvement with Tibetan human rights issues is well known: this brings an added element of commitment to the role. Co-star, Bai Ling, making her American feature film debut, is a standout, combining feminine eloquence and intelligent charm with a quiet determination that makes her performance totally credible. Both lead characters make emotional journeys - separately and together, bringing issues of honesty and commitment to one’s self and one’s belief to the fore. Jon Avnet’s confident direction, greatly aided by Newman’s score interwoven with Eastern influences like an intricate, yet substantial tapestry, is enigmatic and sustains tension throughout. While there may be some implausable plot elements, Red Corner is riveting entertainment, with food for thought on cultural and political issues in China. The seamless integration of the authentic Beijing sequences with the studio shots are faultless, adding greatly to the credibility and tension of the film. Production design is immaculate, while sharp editing and excellent sound add to a superbly made film."
Louise Keller

"Whatever Todd says (below) in a rather stiff, stand-offish approval of this film, the real key to its impact is the very thing he deflates: the accuracy of its depiction about the Chinese legal system is the precise reason everyone involved is so passionate – on AND off screen. It is the exact nature, the minutiae of the legal system of a nation that provides the fabric of freedom - or otherwise - that the powerless people enjoy. Perhaps it is not all that implausible as Todd and some others make out. Unless they refer to Gere running across rooftops in Beijing, which is only implausible if his suit doesn’t get dirty and crumpled. For me, Red Corner is a biting work, at once politically savvy yet humane; action-packed yet meaningful; superbly crafted yet emotionally driven. No film is perfect, but perfection isn’t the objective. What is admirable is the film’s desperately needed conscience, which manages to dress itself in the clothes of modern American entertainment to take its message to millions of people – with conviction and a sense of urgency. It is a molotov cocktail, and China knows it. As for Bai Ling, she perforates the cynical soul with her tough yet intensely sensitive and well balanced portrayal of a woman who discovers vital things about life and her own morality during the course of the film. Top value."
Andrew L. Urban

"Jon Avnet's latest film is a bit of a puzzle, in that it's a movie that has much going for it, yet one is never sure of its overall purpose. On the one hand, it's a fish-out-water thriller, the kind we've seen before, but this time, we're into knocking the Chinese. It's clear that Gere chose to do the film, because of his pro-Tibet, anti-Chinese leanings, and claims it's entirely accurate, but is it? As a thriller, a courtroom drama, Red Corner works as effective, though somewhat predictable, entertainment, and Avnet keeps up the pace with fluid camerawork and some very sharp editing. Only when it resorts to a chase movie at one point, that it becomes silly. However, Red Corner has one superb characteristic: Chinese actress Bai Ling, who gives compassion, strength, intelligence and eloquence to the film's one complex character, and she is radiant on screen, while Gere struts his usual and uninspiring stuff. On a visual level, the film is impressive and acutely captures contemporary China, at least geographically. Red Corner is a film of contradictions. It's entertaining enough, but as political drama is somewhat of a cliché, and were it not for the haunting presence of Bai Ling, Red Corner would be far easier to ignore."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2
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RED CORNER (M)
(US)

CAST: Richard Gere, Bai Ling, Bradley Whitford, Byron Mann, Peter Donat, Robert Stanton, Tsai Chin, James Hong, Tzi Ma, Ulrich Matschoss, Richard Venture, Jessey Meng

DIRECTOR: Jon Avnet

PRODUCER: Jon Avent, Jordan Kerner, Charles B. Mulvehill, Roselie Swedlin

SCRIPT: Robert King

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl Walter Lindenlaub

EDITOR: Peter E. Berger

MUSIC: Thomas Newman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Sylbert

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 26, 1998







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