BETTER DAYS

"Flawed Foreign Movie About Bullying"

Quality:
Content: -4 Gross immorality, and/or worldview problems.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

BETTER DAYS is a Chinese drama about a teenage girl trying to take the annual college entrance exam. Chen feels guilty when her friend, Hu, who’s also taking the test, suddenly kills herself. Chen thinks she could have done something to stop her friend from killing herself, but her friend was actually being bullied at school. Chen becomes the new target of the bullies, but she’s helped by a teenage thug named Xiao (“Chow”). When Chen’s mother has to go in hiding because she’s selling illegal goods to survive, Chen turns to Xiao for protection. A romance develops.

BETTER DAYS is a heart-wrenching drama about the effects of bullying in teens and its prevalence within Chinese culture. However, it has an overarching sentiment of hopelessness and despair. Since BETTER DAYS is about intense bullying, it’s a highly violent movie. Also, despite the anti-bullying theme, the movie has a strong Romantic, false religious worldview. In BETTER DAYS, young people’s worth is based on how well they perform in school, and people believe they are reincarnations of the Monkey King, a Hindu demigod.

Content:

(RoRo, FRFR, CoCo, B, LL, VVV, S, A, D, M):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong Romantic, false religious, false philosophical worldview where young people’s worth are based on how well they perform in school and how well they please their parents, people believe they are reincarnations of the Monkey King god, and people in Communist China believe they are against the world and must prove themselves with their intelligence in order to measure up against other countries, mitigated by an anti-bullying message

Foul Language:
10 obscenities, and people are called idiots

Violence:
High level of violence includes several scenes of women being beaten up and slapped in the face, one scene of a woman’s hair being cut and her clothes torn, bullies beat up a thug who then fights the bullies when a woman intervenes and starts getting beaten up, several bloody images of a dead body, and a theme of suicide

Sex:
A gang of bullies forces a woman to kiss a man they are beating, older teenage boy lets older teenage girl who’s being bullied and wants protection stay at his place, and the two develop a romantic relationship, an innuendo regarding male genitalia, and some kissing

Nudity:
No actual nudity but there’s implied nudity when a gang of bullies tear off an older teenage girl’s clothes

Alcohol Use:
One scene of people drinking

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Smoking but no drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
bullying, lying and cruelty.

More Detail:

BETTER DAYS is a Chinese movie with an agenda. It is set in China, 60 days before China’s national college entrance exam. Two girls in Grade 12, Chen Nian and Hu Xiaodie, are studying for this, but Hu, thinking she is not academically up to par, kills herself. Chen must now face her guilt, believing she could have done something to stop Hu’s suicide.

As the story unfolds, the audience quickly realizes Chen is now the new target of the bullies who bullied Hu, and that is why she committed suicide. One day as Chen is walking home from school, she encounters a gang beating up a teenage street thug, Xiao (“Chow”), for money. When they see her, they pull her into the fight and force her to kiss the young man. Later, Xiao meets her and pays her back the money the bullies stole from her and even repairs her phone.

When Chen goes home, she sees her mother, who reveals she is selling illegal goods (face masks) in another part of China to make money. On the run from creditors who want her money, Chen finds Xiao again and asks him to protect her. He lets her live at his place, and a romantic relationship develops.

Meanwhile, the bullies who bullied Hu are now after Chen because she is smart and preparing for the college entrance exams. Chen’s hope is that she and her brother can move to Beijing once she gets into a good college.

When she takes the test, however, the police reveal the main bully is dead, and Chen is the prime suspect.

BETTER DAYS has an overarching sentiment of hopelessness and despair. Another underlying theme is the belief that people are reincarnations of the Monkey King god (this is explicitly stated in one scene). The Monkey King is a devotee and companion of the Hindu deity Rama. Because of their belief about the Monkey King, Chen and other students find hope in doing well in school. One scene has all the 12th Grade students raising their right arms and swearing an oath to “not fail in school, not to disappoint their parents and smile confidently as they strive for success and glory.” Of course, Christians serve a God of grace, and their self-worth is not dependent on how their parents view them or how well they perform in school.

Although the movie is shot in China, most scenes depict the high crime, poverty-stricken side of China. Besides some foods native to China, the movie doesn’t give viewers much information regarding Chinese culture, other than the beliefs about the Monkey King god, and the society’s emphasis on the performance-based value of education. In one scene, a teacher says, “It is us against the world,” and “we will prevail” due to the high test scores of Chinese students. This implies that the world will sit up and take notice once the Chinese people have proven they are smarter than everyone else. Of course, in Christianity, it’s not your intelligence that counts but your faith in Jesus and your values, which are a gift form God.

Since BETTER DAYS is about intense bullying, it’s a highly violent movie, with several scenes of gangs and bullies beating up innocent victims and themes of suicide. In one scene, the lead female character is stripped of her clothing as some bullies beat her up. Nudity is only implied, not shown, however. Despite the anti-bullying theme, BETTER DAYS has a strong Romantic, false religious worldview where young people’s worth are based on how well they perform in school, and people believe they are reincarnations of the Monkey King god.

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