Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1Good Kill on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'The Good Wife' Cush Jumbo Tackles Comparisons...
'Class': 'Doctor Who' Spinoff Series Coming to BBC Thre...
'The Revenant' Trailer: Leonardo DiCaprio Seeks Revenge...
Will Trevor Noah Live Up To The Hype During Monday's 'D...
Watch Eddie Vedder, Beyonce Duet on Bob Marley's 'Redem...
'CSI' being laid to rest after 15 years ...
Big Brother Season 17 Finale Recap: Super Fan & Trombon...
Dancing With the Stars Recap: Bindi Irwin and Derek Hou...
Emmys 2015: Who should win Outstanding Lead Actor in a ...
Shark Tank Robert Herjavec 'Very Grateful' To Have Met ...

Microsoft Store

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

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
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

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

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


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


Microsoft Store


television, the good wife, cush jumbo, archie panjabi, julianna margulies, bbc3, class, doctor who, buffy the vampire slayer, hunger games, steven moffat, brian minchin, movie, the revenant, leonardo dicaprio, tom hardy, alejandro g. inarritu, christmas day release, comedy channel, trevor noah, daily show, jon stewart, music, global citizen festival, pearl jam, byonce, ed sheeran, eddie vedder, cbs, csi, ted danson, elisabeth shue, elisabeth harnois, william petersen, marg helgenberger, big brother, abc, liz, steve, vanessa, julia chen, dr. will, dancing with the stars, bindi irwin, derek, hough, chaka khan, emmys 2015, laurence fishburne, tracee ellis ross, anthony anderson, will forte, jeffrey tambor, kym johnson, shark tank, robert herjavec, jungle book, cgi, scarlet johansson, bill murray, ben kingsley, idris elba, christopher walken, drama, celebrity apprentice, arnold schwarzenegger, donald trump, nbc, taylor swift, bad blood, emmy award, original interactive program, the late show, stephen colbert, ashley madison, horror, silent, epcot international food & wine festival, walt disney world, the chew, october, celebrity, jimmy fallon, tonight show, dj khaled, all i do is win, country music awards, eric church, little big town, miranda lambert, kenny chesney, sam hunt, maddie & tae, kacey musgraves, chris stapleton, late night, jeb bush, george clooney, war room, straight outta compton, faith-based drama, a walk in the woods, robert redford, september 8, documentary, history, movies, steven spielberg, the bfg, dreamworks, walt disney company, fashion police, melissa rivers, kelly osbourne, giuliana rancic, zendaya, mtv vma, njcki minaj, miley cyrus, anaconda, jennifer lawrence, amy schumer, billy joel, uptown girls, chicago

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store