Dexterous martial arts legend Jackie Chan reaches his 100th film milestone with this historical drama set in the year 1911, as the Chinese public begins to revolt against the Qing Dynasty that has ruled the country for 250 years. As the child emperor takes the throne and his mother, Empress Dowager Longyu (Joan Chen), clings to power, famine sweeps the land and warring factions clash in battle. Meanwhile, the "New Army" beings targeting rebels and the desperate leaders of the Qing Dynasty begin putting the country’s future at risk through rampant trading with foreign countries. When Huang Xing (Jackie Chan) returns home from studying modern warfare in Japan, he finds his homeland consumed by strife. Realizing that the only hope for the future is for China to take up arms and topple the Qing Dynasty, Huang enters into an epic battle that threatens devastating consequences for the common people. (Amazon)
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A Review of 1911
In selecting an item to review for the East Asian Studies for Educators class I had a fairly difficult time narrowing down the choices. There are so many great works in the forms of Novels, short stories, creative arts of all sorts, cultural information and so on. I searched my own personal collection to see what I had readily available. Besides the I Ching, works by Lao Tse and other contemporary and classical books, I searched my collection of movies. To my surprise I found an unopened copy of “1911” staring Jackie Chan. Since it was unopened and never seen by me I thought this would be a way to review this movie, fresh and a first time experience.
The title 1911 refers to the year of the Chinese Revolution. Prior to taking this course I was unfamiliar with the details of the Chinese Revolution and the main people involved with these events. The movie was done 100 years after the revolution occurred and this was a major reason for it being created. As a way to document and acknowledge the events that occurred while sharing these events with a generation that may be unfamiliar or at least less familiar with the revolution than previous generations. The main characters are Huang Xing, the military genius, Sun Yat-Sen, the man labeled a troublemaker by the old empire, and who would become the first president of the new China and Sun Wen.
The movie appeared to stay true to history of the revolution, the main people (both inside and outside of China) that participated in the revolution and the overall context of the revolution. The revolution was actually several revolts that occurred during the year 1911. Starting with the Guuangzhou Uprising on April 23, 1911. But this uprising failed. Next was the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911. It was during this uprising that the 72 martyrs were killed . Then the second Guanghzhou Uprising which would become the final days of the Qing Dynasty. This was a revolution against the corrupt government, the corrupt courts and corrupt banks, against the old empire which was traditional. It was said that the mothers of the revolution were outsiders, ex-patriots who had gone abroad and could finance the revolution. Before the revolution, life was said to be miserable due to an oppressive ruling class. The revolution took hold south of the Yangsi river. The revolution become successful once there was a mutiny of battalions from within the dynasty. Generals would cut their long hair in defiance of t and to not be bullied by others. Yet there was a colonial hegemony at work. The revolution was not meant to be a violent overthrow, there were no guillotines for the ruling class. The movie is a city by city account of the revolution and portrays them from both sides and the technologies of warm they were using in the early 20th century. Once the Forbidden City had been breached and the demise inevitable the Empress Abdicated the thrown on February 12, 1912.Overthrow of Imperial Rule and the Monarchy. The goal was to establish a republic
The allusions to Chinese culture were apparent especially in reference to fate and purposeful events that can change fate. The outside influences were named as members of the British parliament, bankers with the money to fund and decide on the future of China. Business contracts that would be political deals as well. Germany would receive influence on the peninsula, Britain would have Hong Kong and control of a transcontinental railway system. Russia, Japan and the Spanish would maintain “purchased” property such as Macau. Another allusion to the culture were references to ancestors in heaven.
The costumes and stage sets appeared authentic and gave the feeling of being in time period of early 20th century. The costumes stayed true to the Qing Dynasty and the roles/ jobs people had. You could really see the difference between the “old” empire versus the “new” revolutionaries. The empire had traditional clothing which were very elegant and elaborate while the revolutionaries were in suits and ties and fairly plain in comparison.