07/29/2014  
Revolution: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Combo & DVD Aug 19Cuban Fury on Blu-ray & DVD Jul 29Draft Day on Digital HD Aug 19, VOD Aug 29, Blu-ray Combo Sep 2Prom Night on Blu-ray and DVD Sep 9Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II in Theaters Aug 29 & Blu-ray Sep 16Toy Story of Terror! On Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, and More Aug 19The Railway Man on Early Digital Aug 1 on DVD/Blu-ray Aug 12

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Kelly Ripa Reveals the Hardest Part of Her Family's 'Ni...
Revolution: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Combo...
Sandra Bullock Celebrates Her 50th Birthday At Cowboy B...
Kevin Smith Blames Jennifer Garner for Ending Friendshi...
Cuban Fury on Blu-ray & DVD Jul 29...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d'ÈtÈ)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Beijing Bicycle (2001)

"I didn't do anything. Give me back my bicycle!"
- Guei (Cui Lin)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: July 29, 2002

Stars: Cui Lin, Li Bin
Other Stars: Zhou Xin, Gao Yuanyuan, Li Shuang
Director: Wang Xiaoshuai

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and brief nudity
Run Time: 01h:53m:27s
Release Date: July 09, 2002
UPC: 043396078277
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B+B C

DVD Review

This fine recent film from the People's Republic of China is both a smartly told story and an informative glimpse at one of the world's great cities, one that remains largely unknown in many respects in the West. In a familiar motif (be the big city New York or Los Angeles or London or Moscow), Beijing is the destination for those Chinese looking to make their fortune, to escape whatever rural lives they have been born into; the point of entry here is a job as a bicycle messenger, and we meet Guei (Cui Lin), one of the newest employees of Fei Da Express Delivery. Guei is presented with a handsome new bicycle which, in an arrangement with his employer, he will purchase with a steep percentage of his initial income. Turning over 80% of wages back to the boss seems like a tough bargain, but the split is 50/50 once the bike is paid off, and making deliveries on the mean streets of Beijing must beat the brutal agricultural work Guei is looking to escape.

Early on, much is made of the fish-out-of-water aspect of the story's setup. For instance, Guei is such a rube that, when he arrives at a hotel to make a pickup for his messenger service and is mistakenly ushered into the health club, he goes along merely because he's been pointed that way, and even has a shower. It is of course just a matter of time until his bicycle is stolen—there are a few too many loving shots of the bike, alone in a rack and unlocked, Guei's pride and joy, which he must abandon for minutes at a time to perform his professional duties. Guei is thunderstruck by its absence, and vows to find it, but given that the bicycle seems to be the principal mode of transportation for the millions of citizens of Beijing, turning up his is akin to finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Amazingly enough—this being the movies, after all—Guei discovers a schoolboy, Jian (Li Bin), riding around on his bike, to impress his girlfriend, and the negotiation between the two claming ownership of the bicycle constitutes the better part of the movie. Jian feels unjustly taken advantage of at home—the money that had been earmarked to buy him a new bicycle will now go instead to pay for his stepsister's tuition at the school to which she has just been admitted. More than once, Jian and his friends vent their rage at the world on Guei, administering some brutal beatings to the poor messenger who just wants what's rightfully his. Guei's search for his bike must lead to the confirmation of a country boy's every worst fear about life in the big city—it's amoral, crime-ridden and arbitrary, and there's no trusting anyone but yourself.

I don't want to overdo it, but it's hard not to think of the bicycle as some sort of metaphor—it is, literally, Guei's way to a better life. And so when the threat of its disappearance is made palpable, it's no surprise but is still deeply touching that Guei defends it like a lioness protecting her cubs, down to his animalistic shrieks of terror. (In some bizarre way, this movie belongs on a double bill with Pee Wee's Big Adventure, another tale of a young fellow fiercely devoted to his bicycle.)

The film it may most remind you of—and may be deliberately reminiscent of—is Vittorio de Sica's The Bicycle Thief, and the similarities have more to do than merely with the movies' titles. To an American audience, De Sica's neo-realist masterpiece was as much a finely told story as a street-level glimpse of postwar Italy; here, it's the day-to-day business of living in Beijing that's especially interesting for Americans. Things like the single spigot of running water in an alleyway serving an entire neighborhood, or the gentlemen doing tai chi in the streets as the world rushes past around them, or two friends sharing a toothbrush are the kinds of things that aren't integral to the story, but add a flavor and a sense of understanding of an unfamiliar place, enriching the tapestry woven by the filmmakers.

The artful storytelling is done with a minimum of dialogue, so the travelogue aspects of the feature are emphasized even more, and the filmmaker clearly trusts his actors; their expressive features communicate volumes, and the director has the good sense to let many of the scenes play out in a single long shot. Cui Lin is especially fine as Guei—the potential difficulty of having a main character who is more than a little stoic is successfully averted because he so fiercely wants to make a better life for himself, and his attachment to his means of transportation is, in some respects, the purest form of love.

The upsetting but necessary conclusion to the story is well done, too, and the filmmakers have the good sense to avoid showing too much direct violence. (As ever, the violence you imagine is always worse than what's actually portrayed.) It is not the feel-good movie of the year by a long stretch, but will probably give you a newfound respect for those on the hardscrabble urban streets eking out a living, no matter on which continent.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: A very nice transfer, with strong black levels and deeply saturated colors. Only a scratch here and there interferes with the video presentation of this well-shot film.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Mandarinno


Audio Transfer Review: The dynamics on the Chinese soundtrack are steady, and dialogue, music and ambient noise are well balanced. A little bit of hissing can be heard every now and again.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Road Home, Shadow Magic
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Sony has provided a healthy number of chapter stops, along with an original trailer and trailers for two other Chinese-themed films. English subtitles are easily legible and without typographical errors. However, on the DVD case, the name of one of the lead actors, Li Bin, has been Americanized to Lee Bing.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

This is a good story well told, as well as an unfamiliar look at Beijing, and the technical values on this DVD are on par with the fine filmmaking. Some more context or information about the production team would have been nice additions, but it's a highly recommended movie and disc nonetheless.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

celebrity, television, morning talk, live with kelly & michael, kelly ripa, mark consuelos, david burtka, neil patrick harris, adventure, movie, chelsea handler, whitney cummings, sandra bullock, million dollar cowboy bar in jackson hole, wyoming, diane mcmanus, southern soul all stars, kevin smith, ben affleck, jennifer garner, mallrats, chasing amy, dogma, jay and silent bob strike back, batman v superman: dawn of justice, comedy, box office, movies, drama, horror, music, nick jonas, jonas brothers, jason evigan, r&b, chains, donna dixon, bosom buddies, dan aykroyd, james brown biopic, get on up, saturday night live, doctor detroit, fx, fargo, martin freeman, billy bob thornton, allison tolman, animation, tca awards, breaking bad, true detective, matther mcconaughey, hbo, itunes festival 2014, september, pharrell williams, kylie minogue, maroon 5, david guetta, sam smith, blondie, beck, kasabian, philip seymour hoffman, february death, cooper, tallulah, willa, mimi odonnell, james cahill jr., david friedman, action, app, james garner, maverick, the rockford files, devine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, 8 simple rules, the children's hour, doris day, reality, marvel comics, thor, femail, god of thunder, mjolmir, super hero, johnny winter, blues guitar player, zurich switzerland, johnny winter album, willie dixon, walter horton, sex tape, the purge: anarchy, planes: fire & rescue, dawn of the planet of the apes

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too
Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact