Last Watch Date - August 15, 2023
Total Times Watched - 2
The last time I watched this movie was in the late 90s or early 00s, so while I remembered a decent amount of things from it, it wasn't fresh in my mind. I wouldn't have even thought of watching this had SOMEONE not mentioned Bai Ling and her awful song Rehab. Listen to that song and tell me it's music. I dare you. It sounds like an audio stroke.
Bai Ling's horrific music aside, this movie is before her meltdown and addiction issues. Or at least before they became an issue. She was really good in this movie, giving it more weight than Richard Gere could pull off on his own. Gere is fine, but he comes across as extremely douchey in this movie. The other actors are there and do their job. There's nothing else worth noting about them.
This movie is theoretically a critique of the Chinese corruption and lack of transparency, at least on its surface. But deeper than that, it's a really corny romance or love story. Because you can't have Richard Gere in a straight political movie without having a love interest, right!? Because of this, the movie takes some silly turns that undermine what could've been a decent commentary. What can you do.
This movie sits at just over two hours, much of which is spent in a courtroom with people yelling at Richard Gere. I don't mind them yelling at him, but it was heavy-handed and repetitive, especially by the end "revelation" piece (also in the courtroom) where he explodes and tells them to shoot him right there in the court. The character makes no sense. He is overly virtuous and naïve, making extra hoops pop up to get them to the inevitable ending (that you just know is going to happen within the first court scene).
What I remembered as being a really good movie turned out to be hokey and kind of boring. Our memories are funny things. Maybe it's a good idea to revisit things we "know" are good.
It's not worth watching. It's not a bad movie exactly, but it's definitely not good. While it has some interesting sets and it's always fun to watch Richard Gere in prison, it's not enough to recommend a viewing. Read the synopsis on Wikipedia and you'll see that this is doomed to become a fading memory for a lot of people.