"Cow" Movie Review (2010)

7/14/2010 Posted by Admin


Movie Review

By our guest blogger, Aidan Thomas

Some of the most dynamic, creative and provocative foreign cinema is coming out of Hong Kong. "Cow," which played at the recent New York Asian Film Festival, illustrates why. The film, which was directed by Hu Guan and starred the famous Bo Huang, is one of very few war films that has managed to treat the tragedy of war respectfully while allowing the audience to see the comedy and farce that war can beget.

Guan’s story, which takes place during the Sino-Japanese war, focuses on Niu Er (played thoughtfully by Bo Huang). As the Japanese approach, Niu Er, a farmer, is forced to take responsibility for his village’s prized possession--a foreign cow.

Every wartime calamity imaginable becomes fodder for Guan to explore Niu Er’s relentless focus on protecting the cow (with frequently comic consequences). Niu Er fends off a Japanese regiment, hungry and barbaric refugees, and the elements.

The film, which is beautifully shot, is as touching as it is hilarious. Niu Er seems to understand the vicious side of humanity but never loses faith in his own ability to overcome it. His relationship with the cow, although sometimes silly, is ultimately quite touching. The film’s narrative structure is a little finicky but that does little to diminish the strength of many of the film's scenes. Niu Er, while resilient, is prone to hijinx and mix-ups that offer the viewer a brief respite from the vivid and sometimes graphic war scenes that make up the bulk of the film.

The film works because of the chances that Guan takes. The film’s tone is usually spot on and it’s refreshing to see a war film (if you can call it that) where comedy plays an integral role. It’s an emotional and cinematic roller coaster that successfully imitates the highs and lows of real life.

Grade: B

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  1. Edward29 said...

    Darn I thought this was a spin-off movie from Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.

    Seriously though it sounds like a good film with many emotional highs and lows and I will check it out.