Monday, August 27, 2012

Aftershock (2010) NR - 4 Stars

The film, aka "Tangshan dadizhen," is dedicated and based upon the true story of separation and loss in families from an earthquake in Tangshan, China on July 27, 1976, killing over 240,000 people. Be prepared for a tear jerker as you witness a town pick up the pieces of their life and try to move forward. The movie starts out with a swarm of dragonflies and the sky turns bright purple at the beginning of the earthquake. I'm unsure if that is suppose to represent eye witness accounts or just special effects to enhance the story. Either way, these actors work their little fanny's off with superior dramatic performances from all. You won't mind the Chinese subtitles but instead be completely absorbed by the story. I would recommend viewing this film to anyone who needs to write a chapter in their gratitude journey.

Fang Da (Chen Li) and Fang Deng (Jingchu Zhang) are brother and sister and twins living with their family in the small town of Tangshan in China. Their father, Fang Da Qiang (Guoqiang Zhang), is a truck driver and takes the children on his errands in his truck. They live a simple life an he's just bought his family a new fan to help cool them off. Their mother, Li Yuanni (Fan Xu), welcomes the new addition as she adores her family so much she is trying to convince dad they need another child. But as they are planning their new bundle of joy, an earthquake erupts and as they fight to get back in their home, it begins to topple. Li Yuanni is pushed back by Fang Da Qiang as he fights his way through the falling debris to get the children. The building can withstand no more and caves in burying him in the rubble. The children are pinned below a piece of concrete that is crushing the boy's arm on one side and pinning Fang Deng completely beneath. Since there is now way to life the heavy material and more aftershocks threaten to crush the remaining pockets of air they have, the rescuers force Li Yuanni to decide whether to swing the concrete in one direction or the other, only allowing one of them to survive and be freed. Though she begs to save both she must utter the fatal words to save her son and Fang Deng is written off as dead along with her father.

The next 32 years of Li Yuanni's life will be scarred with the memory of her daughter and having to make the choice over her son. Even though Fang Da tries to move her into a nice location, she refuses to leave in case the souls of her daughter and husband try to come home. Meanwhile, Fang Deng comes back to life after being pulled free of he rubble and left for dead, surrounded by her father and many more dead bodies. When she awakes, she can not remember anything and ends up in an orphanage where she is adopted by two members of the Chinese army Wang Deqing (Daoming Chen), and Dong Guilan (Jin Chen). The couple raises the child as their own but eventually Fang Deng gets her memory back and the tell her of her adoption. Now, in the back of Fang Deng's memory is the one of her mother choosing to save her brother which she finds unforgivable to bother to try and find her. Even though Fang Deng now lives in Canada and has a child of her won, she must return to her home country when she learns another earthquake has just leveled her small home town. She works side by side in the rescue efforts with a man she will learn is her brother. Little does she know she's about to be reunited with her long lost family.

Awards include:
2010 - Asia Pacific Screen Award - Best Film
2010 - Asian Film Awards - Best Actress Fan Xu

Tangshan City Government, China Film Group, Huayi Brothers
Director: Xiaogang Feng
Writers: Wu Si, Ling Zhang
Producers: Yanhong Guo, Xiaofeng Hu, Sanping Han
I viewed 8/12

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