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Hell of a story
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Hell of a story

Beijing cinemas will screen two movies set against the Nanking massacre of 1937. Chinese Six-Generation director Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death opens this weekend while the Chinese-German joint production John Rabe will premiere on April 29.

The Japanese army slaughtered at least 150,000 civilians and raped tens of thousands of women in the 1937 rampage of the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. The killings remain a sensitive issue with many Chinese who believe Japan hasn't shown sufficient remorse for the atrocities. Lu's City of Life and Death, that examines the massacre through the eyes of a Chinese soldier, a Japanese soldier and a foreign missionary, took about four years to make and five months to clear the censors. Fierce gun battles, massacre and true stories bring alive the cruelty of those years. Rather than merely re-telling the humiliation suffered, the film emphasizes the Chinese people's resistance and the anti-war theme.

Leading actress Gao Yuanyuan devoted herself solely to the project for nearly two years. She says the film matured and sharpened her professional skills. She says she studied numerous films, videos and print materials to prepare for the role and was mentally stressed during the shooting. She couldn't distance herself from the role for months, she adds. Actors Liu Ye and Qin Lan also play roles that contrast greatly with their previous work.

The upcoming John Rabe is about a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese from the Japanese during the Nanjing massacre. Chinese mainland actress Zhang Jingchu, who appears in Rush Hour 3, plays a college student whose family suffers in the Japanese invasion of China.

Other films showing at cinemas include:

PTU2: This is Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To's sequel to his 2003 hit, PTU.

Fast & Furious 4: Another Hollywood action thriller directed by Justin Lin, re-groups Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodrigue.

Red River: The story of A Tao is based in a tiny border town between China and Vietnam in 1977.

(China Daily April 27, 2009)

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