The Flowers of War
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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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Zhang's flamboyant camera choreography and diva-ish flounces of melodrama are vivid but misplaced."
‑ Trevor Johnston, Time Out
"The director's grip on the drama is often weakened by his penchant for creating spectacles."
‑ Greg Quill, Toronto Star
"The filming techniques cross Saving Private Ryan with Zimou's own Hero and other dynastic, martial arts-driven Chinese epics."
‑ Graham Young, Birmingham Post
"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."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"While absorbing and never dull you can't help feeling the horrific subject matter deserved rather more subtle handling."
‑ Henry Fitzherbert, Daily Express
""The Flowers of War" seems like a pretty good film until you begin to think about it."
‑ Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic
"All Zhang's splendor does is foster cognitive dissonance in an audience."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"It contributes nothing of value to an understanding of these events."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"Maudlin make-believe in which a molecule of fact has been dropped like vermouth into a martini ..."
‑ Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
"The title alludes to a precious beauty that grows during times of war, but this is just taking things way too far. The colour here is way off."
‑ David Jenkins, Little White Lies
"An unsettling mixture of spectacular brutality and sentimentality that might make even Steven Spielberg blush."
‑ Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
"A strange hybrid of "City of Life and Death" and "Father Goose" that nevertheless, in the hands of Zhang Yimou, musters a few striking moments."
‑ Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Inquirer
"It can look tremendous, even if Zhao Xiaoding's hyper-stylised '90-retro cinematography sits uneasily beside relentless bloodshed and sexual violations."
‑ Tara Brady, Irish Times
"Zhang gives his fondness for chaste melodrama and shimmering colours full rein: it's a style that suits his courtly martial arts films such as Hero, but this material would have benefited from a more Spielbergian, or perhaps David Lean-ian, approach."
‑ Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph
"Impressively directed and beautifully shot, this is a compelling, superbly acted drama that exerts a powerful emotional grip, though it's impossible not to suspect that certain liberties have been taken with the actual events."
‑ Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
More reviews for The Flowers of War on Rotten Tomatoes