THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA
Directed by Takashi Miike
Produced by HIroyuki Tsuji, Norio Watanabe & Shieha Oji
Screenplay by Masa Nakamura
Music by Kôji Endô
Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Renji Ishibashi, Mako & Li-Li Wang
1998/119 mins/Color/Dolby Surround
1.85:1 anamorphic/Japanese/Japan/NTSC Region 0
Once again Miike uses the theme of a stranger in another country. Wada (Masahiro Motoki) is send out to China by his Boss to find a jade. One of the problem is that he doesn't even know anything about jade! Also for him, a young typical business worker to leave the urban Japan for the wildernest of China isn't something he is found of. After a long trip in a train where one man curiously took his picture, Wada meets Shen (Mako), the guide who will take him to the jade. When they are about to leave the man who took the picture of Wada in the train, Ujiie (Renji Ishibashi), gets into the van! After an argument, Ujiie explain to Wada that he's a yakuza and that Wada's company ripped them off, and that he's here to get the jade as a compensation. Wada has no choice but to put up with the violent Ujiie.
The more they get into the country the more they are moving in more primitive transport. First a train, then a van who's falling apart, a tractor, by foot and finally a raft which is pushed by turtles! One night standing by a fire, the three man eat wild hallucinogenic mushrooms. Shen falls and hits his head on a rock and from there on he can't remember anything!
They soon find a reclusive village where the people believe that by wearing wings they can fly!? Yan (Li-Li Wang) is the young woman teaching the kids the techniques of flying. Her grandfather "felt" from the sky years ago in this village and he "knew" how to fly. The more Wada and Ujiie get acquinted with the villagers, the more they get close to them. Especially Wada who starts to have feeling for Yan. They forget about the jade and start thinking about their meaning in life... a question each will have to answer by himself.
Surely the most touching of Miike's films, THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA is superbly written and involving. The actors performances are strong, the stunning photography by Hideo Yamamoto and the whole mystic feel around the village makes this an essential viewing.
THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA was released on DVD in Japan from Beam Entertainment as a PAL Region 2 disc with no subs and a trailer. The edition I own isn't an official release... if you know what i mean. Still the disc is actually very good. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and its 16x9 enchanced. The image is a little bland but still looks good. The Dolby Surround Stereo track isn't anything spectacular but then again this isn't an action film. We get removable easy to read yellow English subs, 14 chapters, the trailer, static menus, no inlay card or booklet. Until an official release with subtitles comes out this is the best edition for us.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©