The sole survivor of a suicide mission seeks justice for his forgotten brothers-in-arms in this Chinese war epic, which delivers a solid hour of Saving Private Ryan-style action before losing its way over the course of a meandering second half. It begins with a bloody and blistering opening salvo, in which Captain Guzidi (Zhang Hanyu) and his Communist infantry are ambushed by Nationalist forces during China’s civil war. Feng Xiaogang’s film continues in much the same vein by having whoever’s still standing defend a strategically vital mine against a relentless enemy assault. The resulting carnage makes Clint’s Letters From Iwo Jima look like a postcard. Unfortunately though, Guzidi’s subsequent fight to have his comrades’ sacrifice recognised is one long yawn, for all Hanyu’s anguished emoting and his miraculous escape from a Korean landmine.
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