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Volume 91, Issue 38
Wednesday, November 5, 1997
Nip it in the bud
China is the new bad guy
NOW WHERE DID I PUT THOSE GLASSES? Gerbiless and Crawfordless, Richard Gere stars as the good guy in his new flick with non-American politics as the bad guy.
By Dan Yurman
An old proverb warns that if you dress a wolf up in sheep's clothing, all you have is a very silly-looking wolf. It is quite obvious the makers of the new film Red Corner have never heard this proverb because if they had, they would not have wasted time making such an ill-contrived piece of propoganda.
Red Corner is a poorly written, generic John Grisham-like courtroom drama, dressed up in what appears to be an exposť of "horrible" China and its backward ways. While the film is initially intriguing, teaching the audience about the penal and legal systems in the People's Republic, by the end, is all just a mask. It masks the silly plot, boring characters and awful script.
The film stars Richard Gere as Jack Moore, an entertainment lawyer away on business in Beijing. Jack finds himself in a bit of a pickle when the woman he wooed and bedded winds up dead the next morning in their hotel room. And Jack is sleeping next to her with her blood all over him and his prints all over the murder weapon. The big, bad Chinese police take him to their big, bad jail and is he is tried in their big, bad legal system with the help of his state-appointed lawyer, Shen Yuelin (Bai Lang in her first American performance). That's about it. The film is merely the recycled plot of boy meets girl, girl meets fate, boy gets framed, boy (along with a nice-looking supporting actress) solves entire mystery.
As Red Corner drudges on, it is evident the only reason this film was made was to defame the Chinese way of life. Many images, as well as the dialogue throughout the film, are blatantly propagandistic. For example, when a character is asked why the Brady Bunch is not shown in China, he replies, "It encourages more than one child per family." By the end of the film, the Chinese legal system breaks down and conforms to the wishes of the American prisoner and all is well. This storyline only proves that (once again) the American system is the only way in which justice can be served. This attitude is obviously narrow-minded and unfounded.
Red Corner does, however, have some redeeming qualities. The editing is brilliant, juxtaposing ancient Chinese folklore with the events of the film and keeping the dull and lethargic script reasonably high-paced.
Another great characteristic of the film is its sound. The soundtrack for Red Corner is beautiful, effortlessly mixing Chinese folk and mood music with American top-40. Director John Avnet does very well with the material he is given.
As a whole, Red Corner is nothing more than a sheepishly-written mystery dressed up in a big, bad, horrible Chinese flag. This makes for a bad fairy-tale, so put the kids to bed and skip this one.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997