DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP

Content -3
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: December 20, 2002

Starring: Jiang Wen, Jiang Hongb, Kagawa
Teruyuki, and Yuan Ding

Genre: Drama/War Movie

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Dr. Ted
Baehr DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP
may be a better movie in the
eyes of people who speak
Chinese. However, if you don't
speak Chinese, and even if you
do love subtitled movies, the
subtitles in this movie are
too much, not to mention the
fact that there is a constant
stream of obscene subtitles at
some points in the movie. The
movie opens in 1945 in
Northern China, which is being
occupied by the Imperial
Japanese Army. A small group
of Japanese soldiers are
marching into a tiny village
playing a marching tune on
their western instruments. At
the same time, Ma Dasan is
fornicating with his mistress
when a knock on his door
forces him to hide his
mistress in the trunk. As soon
as he opens the door, a gun is
thrust in his face. Two burlap
bags full of Japanese
prisoners are thrown into his
hut. Dasan is told to keep the
Japanese prisoners and
interrogate them. The captor
with the gun says that he will
come back for the prisoners on
New Years day. One of the
Japanese prisoners is an
enraged soldier who keeps
cursing Dasan and all the
Chinese. The other is actually
the Chinese translator for the
Japanese, who translates these
curses into meaningless
phrases such as "Thank you,
Grandad" and "Happy New
Year." The days drift into
months as the peasants try
figure out what to do with
these prisoners. They feed
them and nurse their wounds,
and curse each other.
Eventually, Dasan and a small
group of peasants go to the
local city to hire an
executioner. They recruit an
old man who is not able to
behead the prisoners. The
prisoners, in turn, make a
deal that, if they are
returned to the Japanese
garrison, they will give the
village three cartloads of
grain. The Japanese commander
is infuriated, but believes in
the honor of the Japanese
troops so much that he sends
the grain with the regiment.
When they get to the village,
the commander throws a party
for the peasants. He commands
the peasants to shoot the
Japanese prisoner. When they
don't, he orders the Japanese
soldiers to bayonet, behead,
mutilate, and burn the
peasants in the fire, and then
burn the village. Dasan
escapes this slaughter because
he's gone to get his
girlfriend to rejoice in his
victory. In the middle of the
slaughter, word is sent that
the Imperial Army has
surrendered to the Americans.
Cut to the head of the
Chinese army accepting the
surrender of the Japanese with
words of commendation. Then
the Chinese major calls forth
a peasant who collaborated and
orders that the peasant's
brains are blown out at point
blank range. Dasan, who is a
pacifist throughout the movie,
is finally driven to kill. He
clubs and beats several of the
Japanese, and is eventually
captured and beheaded. Before
he dies, his decapitated head
watches the Japanese soldier
who beheaded him turn his
sword over to the Chinese
major. This Marxist satire
clearly indicates that, no
matter who's in power, the
peasants get the wrong end of
the deal. The Japanese abuse
the peasants and the Chinese
Army abuses them. The acting
in DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP is
extremely realistic. The
storyline, however, goes from
the comic to the tragic to a
grotesque satire and does so
in such a prolonged manner
that the movie becomes almost
un-watchable. At times,
there's a constant stream of
foul language, especially the
"f" word, in the subtitles.
Extended scenes of extreme
violence occur, including body
members being cut off, people
beaten, decapitations, and
point blank shootings. Even
cannibalism is discussed. As
if to underline the violence,
the old philosopher of the
village is bayoneted, and the
soldier takes several moments
to remove the bayonet while
the old man dies. Then, the
young boy who loves Dasan is
bayoneted for looking to the
Japanese for protection. These
cruel actions are combined
with laughter, ridicule and
the constant singing of the
Japanese martial band. DEVILS
ON THE DOORSTEP is not a
pleasant movie, and the lack
of hope at the end destroys
any of the virtues one may
have found in it. It is a
bitter satire, which will be
quickly forgotten outside of
China. Please address your
comments to: John Vanco & Noah
Cowen Co-Presidents Cowboy
Pictures Cowboy Booking
International 13 Laight
Street, 6th Floor New York, NY
10013 Phone: (212)
925-7800 Fax: (212)
965-5655 Email:
info@cowboybi.com Website:
www.cowboybi.com

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 140 minutes

Distributor: Cowboy Pictures CONTENT: (Pa,
Co, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, A, D, M)
Pagan worldview with the
Marxist message that the
peasant always gets the wrong
end of the stick; 63
obscenities and 2 profanities;
lots of violence, including
old man bayoneted, boy
bayoneted, man's head cut off,
detached head watches Japanese
soldier hand sword to Chinese
soldier, bloody beatings,
kickings, and point blank
shootings, with blood;
intercourse shown and then
discussed; brief female
nudity, upper male nudity and
men in thongs; drinking and
smoking; and, cowardice,
groveling, wounded pride, and
references to ancestors and
reincarnation.

Director: Jiang Wen

Executive Producer:

Producer: Jiang Wen EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Dong Ping and Zheng Quangang

Writer: Jiang Wen, You Fengwei, Shi
Jianquan, and Shu Ping

Address Comments To:

Content:

(Pa, Co, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Pagan worldview with the Marxist message that the peasant always gets the wrong end of the stick; 63 obscenities and 2 profanities; lots of violence, including old man bayoneted, boy bayoneted, man's head cut off, detached head watches Japanese soldier hand sword to Chinese soldier, bloody beatings, kickings, and point blank shootings, with blood; intercourse shown and then discussed; brief female nudity, upper male nudity and men in thongs; drinking and smoking; and, cowardice, groveling, wounded pride, and references to ancestors and reincarnation.

GENRE: Drama/War Movie

Pa

Co

LLL

VVV

SS

NN

A

D

M

Summary:

DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP, a subtitled Chinese movie, is a bitter satire about a man and his village caught between the Japanese army and the Chinese troops fighting them during World War II. This overly violent, vulgar Marxist satire clearly indicates that, no matter who's in power, the peasants get the wrong end of the deal.

Review:

DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP may be a better movie in the eyes of people who speak Chinese. However, if you don't speak Chinese, and even if you do love subtitled movies, the subtitles in this movie are too much, not to mention the fact that there is a constant stream of obscene subtitles at some points in the movie.

The movie opens in 1945 in Northern China, which is being occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. A small group of Japanese soldiers are marching into a tiny village playing a marching tune on their western instruments.

At the same time, Ma Dasan is fornicating with his mistress when a knock on his door forces him to hide his mistress in the trunk. As soon as he opens the door, a gun is thrust in his face. Two burlap bags full of Japanese prisoners are thrown into his hut. Dasan is told to keep the Japanese prisoners and interrogate them. The captor with the gun says that he will come back for the prisoners on New Years day.

One of the Japanese prisoners is an enraged soldier who keeps cursing Dasan and all the Chinese. The other is actually the Chinese translator for the Japanese, who translates these curses into meaningless phrases such as "Thank you, Grandad" and "Happy New Year."

The days drift into months as the peasants try figure out what to do with these prisoners. They feed them and nurse their wounds, and curse each other.

Eventually, Dasan and a small group of peasants go to the local city to hire an executioner. They recruit an old man who is not able to behead the prisoners. The prisoners, in turn, make a deal that, if they are returned to the Japanese garrison, they will give the village three cartloads of grain.

The Japanese commander is infuriated, but believes in the honor of the Japanese troops so much that he sends the grain with the regiment. When they get to the village, the commander throws a party for the peasants. He commands the peasants to shoot the Japanese prisoner. When they don't, he orders the Japanese soldiers to bayonet, behead, mutilate, and burn the peasants in the fire, and then burn the village.

Dasan escapes this slaughter because he's gone to get his girlfriend to rejoice in his victory. In the middle of the slaughter, word is sent that the Imperial Army has surrendered to the Americans.

Cut to the head of the Chinese army accepting the surrender of the Japanese with words of commendation. Then the Chinese major calls forth a peasant who collaborated and orders that the peasant's brains are blown out at point blank range.

Dasan, who is a pacifist throughout the movie, is finally driven to kill. He clubs and beats several of the Japanese, and is eventually captured and beheaded. Before he dies, his decapitated head watches the Japanese soldier who beheaded him turn his sword over to the Chinese major.

This Marxist satire clearly indicates that, no matter who's in power, the peasants get the wrong end of the deal. The Japanese abuse the peasants and the Chinese Army abuses them.

The acting in DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP is extremely realistic. The storyline, however, goes from the comic to the tragic to a grotesque satire and does so in such a prolonged manner that the movie becomes almost un-watchable. At times, there's a constant stream of foul language, especially the "f" word, in the subtitles. Extended scenes of extreme violence occur, including body members being cut off, people beaten, decapitations, and point blank shootings. Even cannibalism is discussed. As if to underline the violence, the old philosopher of the village is bayoneted, and the soldier takes several moments to remove the bayonet while the old man dies. Then, the young boy who loves Dasan is bayoneted for looking to the Japanese for protection. These cruel actions are combined with laughter, ridicule and the constant singing of the Japanese martial band.

DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP is not a pleasant movie, and the lack of hope at the end destroys any of the virtues one may have found in it. It is a bitter satire, which will be quickly forgotten outside of China.

Please address your comments to:

John Vanco & Noah Cowen

Co-Presidents

Cowboy Pictures

Cowboy Booking International

13 Laight Street, 6th Floor

New York, NY 10013

Phone: (212) 925-7800

Fax: (212) 965-5655

Email: info@cowboybi.com

Website: www.cowboybi.com

In Brief: