AKA: Xinhai Revolution, 1911 Revolution, China 1911
Year of release: 2011
Directors: Jackie Chan, Zhang Li
Action directors: Ng Kong, Jackie Chan
Producers: Wang Zhebin, Wang Tianyun, Bi Shulin
Writers: Wang Xing-Dong, Chen Bao-Guang
Cinematography: Lee Tae-Yoon
Editing: Kim Sang-Beom
Music: Shim Hyun-Jung
Stars: Jackie Chan, Winston Chao, Li Bing-Bing, Jaycee Chan, Jiang Wu, Sun Chun, Hu Ming, Joan Chen, Ning Jing, Hu Ge, Dennis To
Not rated; contains IIB-level violence
Movie Review Index
Billed as Jackie Chan's 100th film, the Mainland production 1911 attempts to tell a sweeping tale of the overthrow of the Qing empire. But, despite Jackie Chan himself serving as co-director, everything here feels too plodding and forced. The obvious and blatant whitewashing and cinematic rewriting of history imposed by the Chinese government doesn't help matters, either.
In the movie, Chan plays Huang Xing, an compatriot of Sun Yat-Sen (essayed here by Winston Chao), the man who would become China's first president. 1911 details their fight to bring down the last remnants of the Qing empire, who are led by the Empress Dowager (Joan Chen) and her court of corrupt officials.
A major problem with 1911 is that it sets out to tell the tale of these revolutionaries, yet the audience ends up knowing very little about them, because the movie's focus switches far too much. Huang and Sun are separated for much of the film, and their scenes do not mesh very well together. By the time a kung fu scene is thrown in near the end, it becomes clear that the film-makers aren't really sure in which direction to take the picture.
Also, the blatant attempts to rewrite history to satiate a modern Chinese population growing increasingly less fond of their government go so far as to make aspects of the film come off as ridiculous. Specifically, there are title cards displayed throughout the movie that make it painfully obvious that you're watching propaganda. A well-shot and nice looking piece, but propaganda nonetheless.
At the end of the film, the title card states that Huang and Sun's efforts paved the way for the way for the Communist Party to make China into a world power. Never mind the fact that Huang and Sun's group, Tongmenghui, would go on (in one form or another) to fight the government for almost forty years until they retreated to Taiwan in 1949. Even if you're not versed in Chinese history, the lackadaisical and uninspiring film-making style makes 1911 an entry only for those bound and determined to see every entry in Jackie Chan's filmography, no matter what the quality of the work is.