Century of Light and Shadow, A (2005) Review

"A Century of Light and Shadow" Chinese DVD Cover

"A Century of Light and Shadow" Chinese DVD Cover

Cast: Shek Kin, Yu So-chau, Patrick Tse Yin, Connie Chan, Josephine Siao, Suet Nei, Cheng Pei-pei, Ng See-yuen, Gordon Liu, Tony Ching Siu-tung, Jimmy Wang Yu, Ti Lung, Kara Hui Ying-hung, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, John Woo, Hsu Feng
Running Time: 368 min.

By JJ Hatfield

I was very pleased when I found this documentary about Chinese cinema. That type of information I find interesting and entertaining. While I admire the objective I’m not sure the goal was achieved.Over 200 people hosted 300 pieces of film! The high reaching numbers should have made me concerned about how much could reasonably be put on two discs. As it turns out that was not an issue.

While I certainly have no disagreement about the people chosen to highlight a segment, there was simply too much to be treated fairly and insightful. I am certainly no expert on China or the Chinese film. I found the first 30 years coverage very interesting and provided information in a highly palatable presentation. After that I really didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. Think of it as the “lite” version of Chinese cinema.

Most people would probably enjoy this film and find it wonderful! And it would be if you are just getting started into foreign films or even martial arts movies.

Some people think martial arts are the only kind of foreign films ever made. One thing I really did enjoy was a brief interview with Lau Kar Leung. What a legend! And of course there is Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, the numerous people who were ”Wong Fei – hung” on tv and then film. But before you could really appreciate the subject it was on to the next! You certainly can’t say it drags. I have to grudgingly rate this a bit higher because it will be entertaining for the majority of people who may watch Chinese films, but as for me it left me feeling unsatisfied.

I would love for them to go back to each segment and expand upon those for a couple of hours. There are countless hours of film that would be wonderful to experience! It is not a bad film. It simply is too much, too fast. It’s also a movie that you will probably want to watch several times to make certain you see and hear it all.

There is no way to adequately cover a century of light and shadow, however this documentary is one of the best I have ever seen about early Chinese film.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 7/10

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About JJ Hatfield

i like movies
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One Response to Century of Light and Shadow, A (2005) Review

  1. DVD Phreak says:

    The first two episodes are indeed too fast and hectic, but they seem only to serve as an “overview”. The other episodes are pretty in-depth, I think, especially when 3 of the episodes cover films that are least seen by Westerners: the Cantonese comedies, the musicals, social dramas, etc. Episode 5, The Rise and Fall of Local Culture, is especially insightful, dealing with the changing “identity” of Hong Kong films. Of course,

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