Beijing Bicycle

2001, Movie, PG-13, 113 mins

Review

BEIJING BICYCLE | SHIQI SUI DE DAN CHE
starstarstarstar
So-called "Sixth Generation" filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai caused a stir with the film FROZEN (1997), an act of defiance made entirely outside the auspices of China's government studio system and anonymously signed "Wu Ping" (No Name). Wang's fourth feature, a far more commercial but ultimately less interesting affair, is unlikely to get much of a rise out of anyone. Guei (Cui Lin) is a young man from the provinces who, like many of his generation, has left his village to find work amid booming Beijing's hustle and bustle. Guei lands what a friend describes as a dream job, working as a courier for Fei Da Express Delivery. Outfitted in a khaki jacket, cap and courier's pouch, Guei and his fellow messengers are also given brand new silver mountain bikes, an enviable acquisition in a crowded city where bicycles are the primary form of transport. Guei's boss (Xie Jian) tells him that he will receive 20 percent of the cost of each delivery until the bike is paid for; after that, he'll be entitled to half the profits. But with only 70 yuan to go before the bike becomes his, the inevitable happens: Guei's bicycle is stolen. Fired from his job until he gets his wheels back, Guei desperately scours the city for his bike, which he marked with a small scratch on the frame. Meanwhile, Jian (Li Bin), a top student from a struggling family, goes to a flea market and buys himself something his father promised him months ago but couldn't afford: a silver mountain bike. Who cares that it's slightly used, or that there's a small scratch on the frame? Guei manages to finally track down his bike, but getting it back is another matter entirely: Jian paid for the bike fair and square, and needs it to hang out with his friends and woo pretty Xiao (Gao Yuanyuahn). As the boys reach a stalemate, the film slows to a crawl, and the endless back and forth over the bike quickly becomes tiresome, though the backdrop remains fascinating. Conceived as part of a six-film series entitled "Tales of Three Cities" (the others being Taipei and Hong Kong), Wang's film offers an interesting look at the rapidly changing face of Beijing, a city of widening class differences where gleaming high-rises face sooty housing blocks and poor country kids serve as an underclass for a new generation of materialistic Chinese who covet video games, cigarettes, Fubu gear and mountain bikes. (In Mandarin, with English subtitles.) leave a comment --Ken Fox

Are You Watching?

Beijing Bicycle
Loading ...

Shop

Beijing Bicycle
Buy Beijing Bicycle from Amazon.com
From Columbia TriStar (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $21.99 (as of 11:38 AM EST - more info)
Beijing Bicycle
Buy Beijing Bicycle from Amazon.com
From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $6.95 (as of 11:38 AM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular