Ning Ying hit the jackpot with this her second feature, financed from Hong Kong but shot entirely in Beijing. The story, about retired old codgers who team up to form an amateur Peking Opera troupe and enter a talent contest, is warm, funny and extremely likeable. It's also quite sharp politically, since it pricks the bubble of pomposity associated with Chinese officialdom - incarnated in the story by a former stage-doorman who sees himself as a natural leader. Wonderful performances from the two queens in the troupe, and from Huang Zongluo as the petty tyrant.
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