Mired in the Details
Starring: Jackie Chan, Winston Chou, Lee
Bing Bing, Joan Chen, Chun
Sun, Jaycee Chan, Dennis Tao,
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 118 minutes
Distributor: Variance Films
Director: Zhang Li, Jackie Chan
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Wang Zhebin, Jackie Chan
Writer: Wang Xingdong, Chen Baoguang
Address Comments To:Dylan Marchetti, President/Founder, Variance Films
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The movie stars Jackie Chan as Dr. Sun’s military leader during the 1911 military action, Huang Xing. As Huang leads the military in several battles, Dr. Sun tries to raise money overseas. He also tries to stop European leaders from giving money to the Ching family, led by the Dowager Empress. The politics of the revolution become more complicated when one of China’s top generals, Yuan, who’s leading the fight against Huang’s army, tries to grab ultimate power for himself.
1911 gets a bit mired in the details of the fighting. This will confuse those viewers who don’t know the historical background. The production values are very high, however. The performances are also good, except for the portrayal of Homer Lea, an American military strategist who got caught up on Dr. Sun’s revolution. His character, who was actually a brilliant man who predicted America’s war with Japan and the dissolution of the British Empire, is portrayed as a bumbling idiot, and badly portrayed at that. The real Lea actually became another close military adviser to Dr. Sun.
The worldview in 1911 is mostly humanist. Dr. Sun and his supporters are clearly secular people in this version, though Dr. Sun may have converted to Christianity in his youth. There’s also some talk about fate. In addition, though Dr. Sun and his supporters often talk about freedom, democracy and Chinese sovereignty, there’s talk about foreign imperialism and brief allusions to socialist ideals of land reform and solving the problem of Chinese poverty. Then, the movie’s ending alludes to the revolution’s eventual failure and says that the revolution only ultimately succeeded with the coming to power of the Chinese Communist Party. In this light, the movie’s references to fate seem to reflect this Marxist, communist content, because the Marxist humanists of the Chinese Communist Party in the past (if not now) believed that socialism and communism are inevitable forces that will gain ultimate victory.
Despite his victories in 1911, Dr. Sun had to get help from General Yuan in convincing the Ching Dynasty to abdicate. In exchange, Dr. Sun gave up his presidency in the new Chinese republic to Yuan. As the movie indicates, this turned out to be a grave mistake. Eventually, Yuan declared himself Emperor after Dr. Sun led an unsuccessful Second Revolution. This forced Dr. Sun to seek asylum in Japan.
Of course, after Yuan’s death in 1916, China became overrun by warlords. Dr. Sun returned to China and tried to re-establish the republic. Regrettably, however, he actively cooperated with international socialists, the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party. Dr. Sun demanded, however, that the Communists remain loyal to his party. Then, after Dr. Sun’s death in 1925, the conservative successors in his party became more and more upset by Communist agitation in China, particularly in Shanghai. They started purging the Communists. Then, when the left wing of Dr. Sun’s party found out that Russia’s dictator Joseph Stalin had ordered the communists to take over the left wing, the break with the communists became permanent, leading to full civil war. Sadly, the communists eventually won the civil war, and the remnants of Dr. Sun’s party fled to the island of Formosa, now called Taiwan.
Ultimately, as happened with Dr. Sun and his successors in China, all governments and all political leaders that don’t acknowledge the God of the Bible will fall. If America has become weaker than it once was, as some have suggested, then it is because it’s turned its back on God. Christian revival is essential, therefore, if the United States and its Western allies want to stop the Chinese communists and the Islamic fascists in the Middle East from reaching their goals of world domination.
1911 gets a bit mired in the details of the fighting. This will confuse those viewers who don’t know the historical background. The production values are very high, however, except for a terrible performance by an actor playing Dr. Sun’s most trusted American military advisor. Though historically accurate, the movie places the history of 1911 into a humanist, left-wing context. There’s even a final salute to the Chinese Communist Party now ruling China with an iron fist. 1911 also contains some very strong war violence.