Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Director: Zhang Yimou (2005)
Zhang Yimou cast Ken Takakura, who was popular in macho cop roles in the 1980s, in his latest film, Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles. Takakura plays Takada, a Japanese fisherman who travels to China to film a documentary of the local Yunnan opera Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles in an effort to redeem himself with his ailing son, who has not spoken to him for eleven years. However, he soon finds that his son's favorite opera actor, whom he has traveled so far to see, has been put in jail. After visiting the actor, Takada agrees to help find his similarly estranged son.
This touching and humane tale is brought to life through co-writer Zou Jingzhi's subtle and uncomplicated narrative, which is realized through Zhang's thoughtful camera work. With the exception of Takakura, the amateur cast has no previous experience in film, yet the acting is natural and convincing, giving performances worthy of even the most seasoned professionals. Riding Alone ultimately celebrates happiness through union, regardless of background, a message made all the more poignant by the collaboration of a 54-year-old Chinese director and a 74-year-old Japanese actor.
(That's Beijing February 13, 2006)