An elegant, contemplative and discreetly philosophical ‘memoir’ of the career, spent mainly in Japan, of Chinese childhood Go prodigy Wu Qingyuan (a mutely expressive Chen Chang).
Wu-san was dominant in the fiercely competitive field of Go (a kind of Zen-Buddhist chess) since moving to Japan in 1928; marriage, war and his increasing commitment to his Buddhist sect contributed to his loss of ardour, which he finally regained, until a motorcycle accident in 1961 broke his nerves.
Tian, in coursing through his life and games, is less interested in the mechanics and moves of the master’s games than considering it in the context of one man’s struggle and commitment in ‘tumultuous’ times of internal conflict and international war. Impressively shot in ’Scope, it’s a considerable achievement, possessed of a tranquil beauty and sagacity.
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1.3 / 5
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Elegant, contemplative and discreetly philosophical sums it up well for me, but not in a positive way. Both the game of Go and the central character are pictured with no more susbtance than mere shadows. The historical background as well as the tensions between China and Japan are only superficially drawn upon. The pace is extremely slow. You're warned!