The Sun Also Rises (Taiyang zhaocheng shengqi)

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Venice International Film Festival

VENICE, Italy -- Fluid motion and glorious colors provide a visual treat in Jiang Wen's sumptuous romantic fantasy "The Sun Also Rises," which screened in competition at the Venice International Film Festival.

Flowers in bloom, intricately embroidered slippers, billowing curtains and a belly as soft as velvet are among the sensuous elements in a quartet of interrelated stories about characters who are variously addled, lecherous, vengeful and yearning in the four quadrants of China in the mid-1970s.

Lavishly produced and imaginatively shot, the film will delight audiences who enjoy extravagantly gorgeous imagery without the violence that usually accompanies it. Boxoffice potential looks good in art houses worldwide.

The first sequence is all about madness and mischief as a single mother (Zhuo Yun) drives her devoted son (Jaycee Chan) to distraction with her daredevil antics in pursuit of tranquility. The agile mom climbs tall trees and stands perilously astride a small earthen raft on the river. She treasures a beautiful pair of slippers that she is forever losing, and the son fears that, one day, the footwear will remain while his mother disappears.

Then, on a college campus, two old friends find their friendship tested by rivalry over a woman. Doctor Lin (Joan Chen) is the mistress of Old Tang (director Jiang), but she finds herself drawn to teacher Liang (Anthony Wong), who is catnip to beautiful women. When Liang is accused of groping women at a campus gathering, Lin offers her rear end behind a curtain to determine whose was the guilty hand.

Old Tang, who is a hunter, has a young wife (Kong Wei) who begins a relationship with the madwoman's son. One day, Tang overhears their noises of passion and his wife whispering that her husband says her belly is like velvet. He determines to shoot the young man but is given pause when the boy asks him, "What is velvet?"

The final episode involves all the characters in a dreamlike sequence that brings their lives full circle. Three cinematographers -- Zhao Fei, Mark Ping-bin Lee and Yang Tao -- worked on the project, and they make the most of some gorgeous scenery, the lush production design of Cao Jiuping and Zhang Jianqun and Xu Jianshu's lovely costumes.

Besides being wonderful to look at, "The Sun Also Rises" is great fun, with sure-handed performances and an especially spry one by Zhuo as the addled mother. Joe Hisaishi's variegated score adds to the entertainment.

THE SUN ALSO RISES
Beijing Buyilehu Films
Credits:
Director: Jiang Wen
Screenwriters: Shu Ping, Jiang Wen, Guo Shixing
Based on the novel "Velvet di" by: Ye Mi
Producers: Albert Lee, Jiang Wen
Executive producers: Albert Yeung, Wang Wei, Jiang Wen
Directors of photography: Zhao Fei, Mark Ping-bin Lee, Yang Tao
Production designers: Cao Jiuping, Zhang Jianqun
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Costume designer: Xu Jianshu
Editors: Zhang Yifan, Jiang Wen
Cast:
Old Tang: Jiang Wen
Doctor Lin: Joan Chen
Mad Mother: Zhuo Yun
The Son: Jaycee Chan
Teacher Liang: Anthony Wong
Tang's Wife: Kong Wei
Running time -- 116 minutes
No MPAA rating
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