Assembly (film)

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Assembly
Assembly Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Traditional 集結號
Simplified 集结号
Mandarin Jí Jié Hào
Directed by Feng Xiaogang
Produced by John Chong
Feng Xiaogang
Wang Zhongjun
Guan Yadi
Written by Liu Heng (1992 screenplay)
Starring Zhang Hanyu
Deng Chao
Yuan Wenkang
Tang Yan
Wang Baoqiang
Liao Fan
Hu Jun
Ren Quan
Li Naiwen
Music by Wang Liguang
Cinematography Lü Yue
Edited by Liu Miaomiao
Production
  company
China Film Co-Production Corporation
Distributed by Huayi Brothers
Media Asia Distribution Ltd.
Release date(s) 20 December 2007 (2007-12-20) (China)
3 January 2008 (2008-01-03) (Hong Kong)
Running time 124 minutes
Country Hong Kong
China
Language Mandarin
English
Budget US$16,000,000 (estimated)
Box office ¥260 million[1]

Assembly is a 2007 Chinese war film written by Liu Heng and directed by Feng Xiaogang. It starred Zhang Hanyu, Deng Chao, Yuan Wenkang, Tang Yan, Wang Baoqiang, Liao Fan, Hu Jun, Ren Quan and Li Naiwen. The film, ostensibly portraying an anti-war theme, was first released on 20 December 2007. It won the 2008 Hundred Flowers Awards and the 2009 Golden Rooster Awards for Best Film.

Plot[edit]

The story begins in 1948 during the Huaihai Campaign of the Chinese Civil War. Gu Zidi, a PLA captain, commands his 9th Company in siege to a town defended by NRA forces. The company captures the town despite sustaining heavy casualties in an ambush. After witnessing his political commissar being brutally killed by an enemy field gun operator, Gu orders the surrendering NRA prisoners-of-war to be shot, but his command is met mainly with refusal. Gu is imprisoned as punishment. He quickly befriends his cellmate, Wang Jincun, an army teacher and pacifist who is jailed for showing cowardice on the battlefield. Gu's superior, Liu Zeshui, soon sends Gu and his remaining 46 men off on a new assignment: to defend to the last man (with limited resources) the regiment's flank — an old mine on the south bank of the Wen River — and to not retreat until he hears the bugle call for assembly with the regiment. Gu also receives permission to take Wang as his new political commissar.

Just as the 48-man company fortifies the position, the NRA forces suddenly attack with superior artillery, infantry and tanks. The 9th Company fiercely fends off two waves of enemy assault, while Gu orders the dead and wounded to be carried into the mine. Only a handful of Gu's men are left alive when the mortally wounded adjutant officer claims that he heard the bugle call in the distance. The others say they also heard the bugle, but Gu, who has been temporarily deafened by multiple explosions, is reluctant to believe them because he did not hear it himself. Gu feels that he is duty-bound and resolves to stay behind. His remaining men are moved by his resolution and decide to follow him and fight to the death.

Some time later, Gu wakes up in an army hospital and realises he is the sole survivor. He tries to find his regiment but is unable to because the army's unit structure has been changed while he was in a coma. He cannot prove that he participated in the battle and is scorned by others, who think that he is a deserter.

Guilt-ridden, Gu goes on to fight in the Korean War as a foot soldier and is wounded by a landmine after saving his platoon commander, Zhao Erdou, during a spotting mission. At the end of the conflict, he recovers and returns to the old battlefield, determined to restore glory to his lost men, only to find the mine reactivated and the old entrance buried under a ton of coal. He encounters Wang Jincun's widow and Zhao Erdou during his search and convinces them to marry. With Zhao's help, Gu uncovers records of his old regiment and finds his way to Liu Zeshui's tomb. The tomb keeper turns out to be his regiment's bugler, and he tells Gu that the assembly call was never sounded during the battle at the Wen River. Gu's company was sacrificed to hold off the NRA forces so that Liu and the rest of the regiment could retreat. Gu flies into a rage and starts hurling abuse at Liu's tombstone but calms down later.

Gu realises that he is now his company's sole surviving witness. He camps out in a mining hut near the old battlefield and starts to dig at the huge coal pile daily with a pick and shovel, despite protests from the miners. A month into his ordeal, the remains of the old regiment's political commissar is found, and the men are finally honoured through an official notice, but Gu remains inconsolable because he cannot find the remaining bodies. Gu experiences a flashback of the battle: He and a critically wounded Wang were the only survivors. After they dragged the last of the dead bodies into the mine, Gu ordered Wang to blow up the mine to prevent the enemy from capturing the corpses. Wang carried out this order before he died. Gu was knocked unconscious in a final cannon shootout with enemy tanks.

Years later, the remains of Gu's men are revealed when excavations for an irrigation project are conducted at the old site of the mine. A large monument is erected and a military funeral is held for Gu's men. Gu finally finds peace.

Cast[edit]

  • Zhang Hanyu as Gu Zidi (谷子地), the commander of the 9th Company.
  • Deng Chao as Zhao Erdou (赵二斗), an artillery battalion commander who befriends Gu Zidi.
  • Yuan Wenkang as Wang Jincun (王金存), the political commissar in the 9th Company.
  • Tang Yan as Sun Guiqin (孙桂琴), Wang Jincun's widow who remarried Zhao Erdou.
  • Liao Fan as Jiao Dapeng (焦大鹏), the commander of the 1st Platoon in the 9th Company.
  • Wang Baoqiang as Jiang Maocai (姜茂财), a sniper in the 9th Company.
  • Hu Jun as Liu Zeshui (刘泽水), the commander of the 139th Regiment.
  • Ren Quan as the original political commissar in the 9th Company who was killed at the beginning of the film.
  • Li Naiwen as Lü Kuangou (吕宽沟), a soldier in the 9th Company.
  • Fu Heng as Luo Guangtian (罗广田), a soldier in the 9th Company.
  • Zhao Shaokang as Laociwei (老刺猬), a soldier in the 9th Company.
  • Hu Ming as Xiaoliangzi (小梁子), the bugler in the 139th Regiment.

Production[edit]

The action and effects team from the 2004 Korean war film Taegukgi were employed to work on Assembly. Assembly is also among the first films produced in mainland China to portray the Chinese Civil War in a realistic style. The film is also adapted from the novel Guan Si (A Legal Case), which is based on a real-life account of a veteran army captain upholding his company's honour.

Critical reception[edit]

The film was a massive box office success, particularly in mainland China.

Perry Lam gave a mixed review of Assembly in Muse Magazine: "There is a huge discrepancy between the sophistication of the filmmakers in their knowledge and application of state-of-the-art techniques, and the naivety and bad faith they place in the value of unquestioning obedience to authority and sacrifice as the highest manifestation of patriotism."[2]

Kozo, who reviewed the film at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 2007, felt that Assembly is a safe commercial movie that does not offend anybody: "In Assembly, war is never really portrayed as a "cause". The human element is the main focus here, and the sacrifices made by soldiers are to be honored because they're people, and not members of one side or the other."[3]

Sequel[edit]

Assembly was quickly followed by a sequel, Assembly 2: The Cold Flame (集结号2-烽火), which was also directed by Feng Xiaogang.[4] Although it also featured Zhang Hanyu in a leading role, it was actually shot in 2005 and held back by the studio. It was eventually released to capitalise on the success of Assembly.[5] The sequel centres on the relationship between a wounded NRA soldier and an orphaned girl during the Second Sino-Japanese War instead of the Chinese Civil War. It contains very few war scenes and focuses more on the personal drama between the characters.

Awards and nominations[edit]

45th Golden Horse Awards
  • Won: Best Actor (Zhang Hanyu)
  • Nominated: Best Feature Film
  • Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Nominated: Best Visual Effects
  • Nominated: Best Action Choreography
  • Nominated: Best Sound Effects
2008 Hundred Flowers Awards
  • Won: Best Film
2009 Golden Rooster Awards
  • Won: Best Film
  • Won: Best Film Director
  • Won: Best Cinematography
  • Won: Best Original Music Score
11th Pyongyang International Film Festival
  • Won: Best Picture
  • Won: Best Director

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karen Chu (17 June 2012). "Feng Xiaogang Unveils Epic 'Remembering 1942' at the Shanghai Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Lam, Perry (February 2008). "The banality of romance and the lie of patriotism". Muse Magazine (13): 108. 
  3. ^ http://www.lovehkfilm.com/panasia/assembly.htm
  4. ^ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/entertainment/2008-02/26/content_6485093.htm
  5. ^ http://twitchfilm.com/2009/12/the-cold-flame-review.html

External links[edit]