1911 Revolution tells the story of the founding of the Republic of China when Sun Yat-sen's Revolutionary forces overthrew the Ming Dynasty, one of the most significant periods in Chinese history, commencing with the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911 and ending with the abdication of Emperor Puyi on February 10, 1912.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Produced with the passion and integrity of a national historical project, 1911 is made accessible to all by captioning key events and characters in doco style. But the sensibilities of the film are altogether dramatic - that is, it is not a dramatised doco but full scale narrative drama.
Jackie Chan is authoritative as Huang Xing the action leader, a departure from his often comedic martial arts roles. His name and his talents are put to good use in telling this seminal story in China's modern history, the moment in time that China dispatched dynastic rule and became a republic - albeit it remained and remains to this day, no less authoritative than that of the previous rulers.
Revolutions all have a romantic sheen created by the idealism that drives them, and this serves the needs of cinema well. In 1911, there is the added romantic element of Huang Xing's love affair with the feisty and courageous Xu Zonghan, beautifully played by Bingbing Li.
Joan Chen is impressive as the Empress Dowger ... with fabulous wardrobe.
The acclaimed Winston Chao plays the pioneering leader Sun Yat-Sen, and we are told he actually looks much like the real hero. Sun, frequently referred to as the Father of the Nation, was the first provisional president when the Republic of China was founded in 1912 and later co-founded the Kuomintang (KMT) where he served as its first leader. Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and remains unique among 20th century Chinese politicians for being widely revered amongst the people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Notwithstanding a few stilted moments, the film looks splendid, with extraordinary detail and a dynamic sense of action. Battles are shot in close up, the characters are well defined and the full, orchestral score is tinged with melancholy. Undoubtedly, 1911 is destined to be a socio-political tear jerker for many Chinese.
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CAST: Jacki Chan, Bingbing Li, Winston Chao, Joan Chen, Jaycee Chan
PRODUCER: Wang Tianyun
DIRECTOR: Jackie Chan, Zhang Li
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Zhang Li, Huang Wei
EDITOR: Yang Hongyu
MUSIC: Ding Wei
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: China Lion
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 13, 2011