Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Feng Xiaogang|
|Produced by||John Chong
|Written by||1992 screenplay:
|Music by||Wang Liguang|
|Editing by||Liu Miaomiao|
|Studio||China Film Co-Production Corporation|
|Distributed by||Huayi Brothers
Media Asia Distribution Ltd.
|Release dates||People's Republic of China:
20 December 2007
3 January 2008
|Running time||124 minutes|
|Box office||260 million yuan|
Assembly (simplified Chinese: 集结号; traditional Chinese: 集結號; pinyin: Jí jié hào) is a Chinese film written by Liu Heng and directed by Feng Xiaogang. It stars Zhang Hanyu, Deng Chao, Yuan Wenkang, Tang Yan, Wang Baoqiang, Liao Fan, Hu Jun, Ren Quan and Li Naiwen. The movie also employed action and effects team from Korean war film Taegukgi.
The film, ostensibly portraying an anti-war theme, was first released on 20 December 2007. It is among the first Mainland-produced films to portray the Chinese Civil War in a realistic style. The film is an adaptation of the novel Guan Si (A Legal Case), which is based on the real-life account of a veteran army captain upholding his company's honor.
The story begins in 1948 during the Huaihai Campaign of the Chinese Civil War. Gu Zidi (谷子地), a PLA captain, commands his Ninth Company in siege to a town defended by KMT forces. After being ambushed, the company captures the town with severe casualties. The brutal death of his political officer to an enemy field gun in the fight causes Gu to order the shooting of the surrendering KMT prisoners, though the command is met mainly with refusal. As punishment, Gu is imprisoned, and he quickly befriends his cellmate: an army teacher and pacifist named Wang Jincun, who had been jailed for battlefield cowardice. Gu's commanding officer, Colonel Liu, soon sends Gu and his remaining 46 men off on a new assignment; to defend to the last man (with limited resources) the battalion's flank — an old mine on the south bank of the Wen River — and not to retreat until he hears the bugle call for assembly with the regiment. Gu also receives permission to take Wang as his new political officer.
Just as the 48-man platoon fortifies the position, the Kuomintang suddenly attack with superior artillery, infantry and tanks; the company fiercely fends off two waves of enemy assault, while Gu orders the dead and severely wounded to be carried into the mine. Barely a handful are alive when his mortally burnt adjutant officer recalls hearing the bugle call in the distance. The others begin to say that they heard the bugle as well, and allege that Gu, deafened by multiple explosions, was not able to hear it. Duty-bound, Gu resolves to stay, which moves the remaining men to follow him and fight to their death.
An undetermined amount of time later, Gu is seen in an army hospital as the only apparent survivor, but due to sudden changes in the Army's unit structure he is unable to find his regiment, thus leaving him unable to prove his accounts of the battle.
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. Encountering Wang Jincun's widow and Zhao Erdou during his search, he convinces the two to marry. Zhao's help would then allow him to uncover records of Gu's old battalion, leading him to Colonel Liu's grave and its keeper — his unit's former bugler, from whom he learns that the assembly call was never sounded at the Wen River battle; instead, Gu's company was sacrificed to hold off the KMT so that Liu and the rest of the regiment could retreat.
Realizing he is now his company's only living 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 old battalion's political commissar is found, and the men are finally honored through an official notice, but Gu remains inconsolable, as he still cannot unearth the bodies.
A memory then surfaces of the Wen River battle: Gu and a critically wounded Wang are the sole survivors, and after pulling the last of the dead into the mine, Gu orders Wang to blow it up to prevent the corpses from being captured. Wang carries out this order before dying, as Gu is knocked unconscious in a final cannon shootout with enemy tanks.
Years later, excavations for an irrigation project eventually unveils the hidden tomb containing Gu's men; a large monument is erected and a formal burial performed, finally putting Gu at peace.
The film was a massive box office success, particularly in mainland China.
Perry Lam, in Muse Magazine, gave a mixed review: '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.'
Kozo, reviewed the film at Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 2007, felt that Assembly is a safe commercial movie that doesn't 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." 
Soon after the release of the film, a sequel named Assembly 2: The Cold Flame (集结号2-烽火) was already in the works: it was released in March 2008, and also starred actor Zhang Hanyu in a leading role. This particular movie centers on the relationship between a wounded KMT soldier and an orphaned girl during the Second Sino-Japanese War (the Chinese theater of World War II), but unlike the original the film distinctly contains very few war scenes, focusing more on the personal drama that occurs between the characters.
Awards and nominations
- 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
- Won: Best Film
- Won: Best Film
- Won: Best Film Director
- Won: Best Cinematography
- Won: Best Original Music Score
- Won: Best Picture
- Won: Best Director
- Karen Chu (17 June 2012). "Feng Xiaogang Unveils Epic 'Remembering 1942' at the Shanghai Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Lam, Perry (2 2008). "The banality of romance and the lie of patriotism". Muse Magazine (13): 108.
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