The World

"Very Good"

The World Review


Zhang Ke Jia's blistering cinematic criticisms of life in modern day China have made him an unpopular artist in the upper realms of Chinese government. He's been banned in Beijing three times. Only with the arrival of The World do Zhang's fellow countrymen get to see what he's been doing to wow the West over the past several years.

This time around, Zhang has created a long and free-floating visit inside the walls of Beijing World Park, a sort of low-rent EPCOT that features small-scale replicas of the world's great sites -- the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Manhattan skyline, complete with World Trade Center -- and offers its visitors the chance to "see the world without leaving Beijing," a particularly cruel fate from his point of view.

In the tunnels and dressing rooms below the park we meet Tao (Zhao Tao), a lively and beautiful young woman who works as a dancer and hostess at the park, her boyfriend Taisheng (Chen Taisheng), a security guard, and their large circle of co-workers, most of whom rush around in lavish costumes as they stage one Vegas-like spectacle after another. World Park is their world. They seem to work constantly, and they live in shabby dorms nearby.

Though the on-and-off romance of Tao and Taisheng provides the main narrative thread, the film wanders off to show us snippets of the lives of other park workers along with some Russian guest workers (whose passports are taken by their manager when they arrive, their wings effectively clipped) and a group of peasants from the countryside, friends of Taisheng who have arrived to look for jobs in the dangerous construction industry. To them, a security guard job in a theme park would be heaven on earth. When Taisheng meets another woman, it turns out she runs a counterfeit fashion business, obsessing over the quality of her fake DKNY labels.

This is Zhang's bleak vision of China, a chaotic, corrupt, and constantly humming hive where everyone is trapped in meaningless jobs and on the prowl for ways to make a few more yuan. There's clearly no escape. The constant reminders of world travel scattered around the park simply taunt those who work there and who dress up in foreign costumes day after day. Tao is thrilled to have a look at her friend's new passport, but she giggles, "I don't understand it." In a particularly heavy-handed moment, Zhang has her working as an ersatz flight attendant in an airliner that's permanently parked at the park. Get it? This plane will never take off.

All their work adds up to nothing, but from Zhang's point of view it's a particularly cruel state of affairs because the work is in the service of an emerging upper class who are cashing in. There's no Mao-like ideology behind it, no rising tide that's supposed to lift all the boats. Yes, tens of millions may be making their way into the new middle class, but hundreds of millions aren't, and won't.

As The World enters its third hour, the oppression is palpable. You feel like you'll never get past the monorail that slowly circles (or should I say fences in) the entire park. Tao and Taisheng spin their wheels and ponder marriage, but neither one can really see the point of it. What would it gain them? Terrible things happen to many of their friends and co-workers, and even if you root hard for Tao to achieve some kind of deliverance, you know deep down that the only Eiffel Tower she'll ever see is the one-third scale tower that looms ominously over World Park.

Aka Shijie

It's a long World after all.



The World

Facts and Figures

Run time: 143 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th April 2005

Distributed by: Zeitgeist Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.