My Country, My Parents review: 4 patriotic stories about China's forefathers

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·3-min read
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Length: 156 minutes
Director: Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi, Xu Zheng, Shen Teng
Cast: Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi, Xu Zheng, Shen Teng, Leo Wu, Huang Xuan, Song Jia, Ma Li, Zhang Tianai, Li Guangjie, Chen Daoming, Peng Yuchang, Zhang Yi Mou, Wan Qian
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles

In theatres from 8 October (Singapore)

4 out of 5 stars

My Country, My Parents is a Chinese patriotic film containing four short stories, directed by Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi, Xu Zheng, and Shen Teng respectively. The four directors also star in their own stories, each covering a different genre and taking place in different periods from the World War II in 1942 to a futuristic world in 2050.

Coming after My People, My Country (2019) and My People, My Homeland (2020), My Country, My Parents is the third film in the series that celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949. However, it is not filled with as much propaganda as expected, unlike the film 1921, which is dedicated to the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Instead, the four stories explore how the forefathers overcame hardships and achieved progress.

Wu Jing in My Country, My Parents' first story Cheng Feng. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Wu Jing in My Country, My Parents' first story Cheng Feng. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

The most impactful is none other than the first story Cheng Feng by the action actor-director Wu Jing. He is best known for directing and acting in the war action film series Wolf Warrior. In Cheng Feng, which is set during World War II, you will be able to experience the same level of brutal war action as in Wolf Warrior. The visual effects, which include injured men and horses (no real horses were harmed during the filming), are also very realistic. To top it off, it packs some heartbreaking scenes, which may be predictable but still make a lasting impression.

From left to right: Yuan Jinhui, Huang Xuan, Zhang Ziyi and Ren Sinuo as a family in My Country, My Parents' second story Poem. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
From left to right: Yuan Jinhui, Huang Xuan, Zhang Ziyi and Ren Sinuo as a family in My Country, My Parents' second story Poem. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

The second story Poem by Zhang Ziyi turns out to be the most heart-wrenching yet inspirational. It is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a technology breakthrough is attained after countless failures and setbacks. Poem is relatively more sentimental as it touches on familial relationships. It is a simple story that speaks volumes and illuminates the often overlooked sacrifices behind great achievements.

From left to right: Xu Zheng, Han Hanlin and Song Jia in My Country, My Parents' third story Duck Prophet. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
From left to right: Xu Zheng, Han Hanlin and Song Jia in My Country, My Parents' third story Duck Prophet. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

After bawling your eyes out at Cheng Feng and Poem, thankfully, the third story Duck Prophet by Xu Zheng switches to a lighter mood. Set in the late 1970s, Duck Prophet is based on a true story about the first Chinese TV advertisement. This is the third time Xu Zheng has directed a story in the My Country film series — he is also the only director who has participated in all three films. Although the story pales in comparison to the others, the performance by the 12-year-old Han Hanlin, who has also participated in all three films and worked alongside Xu Zheng, is rather eye-catching.

Shen Teng in My Country, My Parents' fourth and last story Young Man. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Shen Teng in My Country, My Parents' fourth and last story Young Man. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

The funniest of all is the last story Young Man by Shen Teng, which dives into the sci-fi genre with topics of artificial intelligence and time travelling. The storyline might be a little clichéd, but Shen Teng’s comical portrayal of an emotionless robot will surely tickle your funny bone. Set in the years 2021 and 2050, Young Man seems to illustrate hope for the future, which makes it a great final story for the film’s ending.

All in all, My Country, My Parents is worth watching as it takes you through four different substantial stories, and covers a range of genres including action, drama, comedy and sci-fi.

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