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Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version) DVD Region 2

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Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Internationally famous director Zhang Yimou finally returns to a film about ordinary men in Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, after his two widely circulated Heroes and House of Flying Daggers on legendary heroes. The film stars Japanese veteran Takakura Ken as Takada, a father who has a difficult relationship with his son Kenichi (Kiichi Nakai). Kenichi had been making a movie on Chinese opera before discovering he was afflicted with a terminal illness. Takada, in an attempt to reconcile with his son, decides to finish this filming project. Alone he starts his thousand-mile journey within China, and this physical journey turns into a psychological journey through which he can review his difficult father-son relationship... Adapted from a real-life incident, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles will move the audience by bringing out the genuine affection between father and son.
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Technical Information

Product Title: Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version) 千里走單騎 (日本版) 千里走单骑 (日本版) 単騎、千里を走る。 Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version)
Artist Name(s): Takakura Ken | Jiang Wen | Nakai Kiichi | Terajima Shinobu 高倉健 | 姜文 | 中井貴一 | 寺島忍 高仓 健 | 姜文 | 中井贵一 | 寺岛忍 高倉健 | 姜文(チアン・ウェン) | 中井貴一 | 寺島しのぶ | ヤン・ジェンボー | チュー・リン | リー・ジャーミン Takakura Ken | Jiang Wen | Nakai Kiichi | Terajima Shinobu
Director: Zhang Yimou | Furuhata Yasuo 張藝謀 | 降旗康男 张艺谋 | 降旗康男 張藝謀(チャン・イーモウ) | 降旗康男 장이모우 | Furuhata Yasuo
Release Date: 2006-09-22
Publisher Product Code: TDV-16158D
Language: Mandarin
Subtitles: Japanese
Place of Origin: China
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, Greenland and the Middle East (including Egypt) What is it?
Publisher: Toho
Other Information: DVD
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1004435143

Product Information



メイキング/海外版予告編/張芸謀、高倉健 心の旅(第18回東京国際映画祭用プロモーション映像)/特報/予告編



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Other Versions of "Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version)"


This film has received 4 award nomination(s).
  • The Golden Rooster Award 2007
    • Best Screenplay Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actor Nomination
    • Best Cinematography Nomination
    • Best Recording Nomination
All Award-Winning Asian Films

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Japan Version)"

August 14, 2006

This professional review refers to Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Taiwan Version)
Takata Gou-ichi (Ken Takakura) receives the telephone call that every father dreads. Called to Tokyo by his daughter-in-law, he receives word that his son, Ken-ichi, is dying. Understandably mournful over the imminent death of his son, Gou-ichi also knows that the two have not spoken in years and have, in spite of their blood relation, lived separate lives. Attempting a reconciliation, Gou-ichi makes a tentative approach via his daughter-in-law but Ken-ichi refuses him, leaving his father alone outside of the hospital, with nothing but his feelings of regret for company. The kind words of his daughter-in-law serve as nothing as he turns towards home but he remains hopeful that the two will share words before Ken-ichi's death. A videotape is slipped into Gou-ichi's hand, which he duly packs before biding farewell.

Returning home with the videotape, Gou-ichi finds the one man in his remote village who can play it and watches a television news report of his son, a documentary filmmaker, attempting to record a performance of a mask opera by Li Jiamin in the Chinese province of Yunnan. Believing that a bridge can be built between his son and himself, Gou-ichi leaves both his village and Japan for China where he hopes to complete his son's work by filming Li Jiamin performing the opera Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. With an interpreter who speaks little Chinese and the news that Li Jiamin is currently in prison for stabbing a man, Gou-ichi's way is made almost impossible. But a need to make it up with his son drives him to finish Ken-ichi's work with little regard to where his efforts may take him.

In time, the expression of a martial art becomes not what one has been taught but what one has discovered about oneself. After two dazzling martial arts films, Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, it is fitting that director Zhang Yimou has gone on to make Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles, a road movie that doesn't so much discover what's out there as what lies within its central character. Riding Alone pulls away the normally hard exterior of grown men and reveals the tears that are usually swallowed back. There is much crying, most of it in unexpected places, but laughter as well, and the film reveals a connection with its emotional core that was missing from Hero and House Of Flying Daggers and may be all the more impressive because of it.

Like the very best road movies, Riding Alone places its central character in unfamiliar locations, initially that of a bustling Tokyo and then that of rural China, both of which are a world away from the small Japanese village in which Gou-ichi Takata lives. In doing so, Zhang Yimou takes Gou-ichi out of his place of safety and leaves him alone, cutting him off from his surroundings in the manner that his son, Ken-ichi, has been from his family. In Tokyo, where he is refused entry to his son's hospital room, Gou-ichi looks lost and very much alone. In China, despite the comfort that he takes in the rural surroundings, no one understands his Japanese and the translator that accompanies him, Qui Lin, who writes things down in a pad to translate later, is of little use when faced with the bureaucracy of the Chinese penal system. Again, Zhang, not content with taking him far from home, places many obstacles in Gou-ichi's path in the manner of a series of trials that must be overcome in the traditional manner of a quest. Li Jiamin, for example, isn't just difficult to find but is also in prison, asking that Gou-ichi deal with the Chinese authorities. Even then, his efforts are somewhat in vain as Li Jiamin refuses to perform, sobbing in great gulps as he reveals the shame that he feels being in prison unable to see his own son, the young Yang Yang.

Writing it down, it sounds much more obvious than it is presented in the film. After all, what could be less unexpected than Gou-ichi, estranged from his own son, discovering that he must venture into rural China in search of Yang Yang. But as Zhang has structured his film, it feels natural and, certainly in the manner in which Gou-ichi approaches the task, it's done without fuss or fanfare. In spite of the drama of the first half of the film, it's this second half that works best, finding a relaxed tone that's well suited to the pace of rural life. In this, there are moments that are surprisingly touching, such as when a banquet is prepared in Gou-ichi's honour by those living in the village in the Yunnan province where Yang Yang is being raised. Or, even better, when Gou-ichi getting a laugh out of the bad-tempered Yang Yang by taking photographs of him as he tries to relieve himself whilst hidden between rocks in mountains.

Riding Alone doesn't end as you might expect. It suggests a happy ending, but it's difficult to see how any character has actually achieved what they set out to do. Perhaps this was for the best, making it an unpredictable story where a lesser director might have tended towards the obvious. The tears that accompany its final moments, as well as those that are swallowed back, reveal the emotions felt by men who are more used to hiding them. And it's there that Riding Alone becomes a great film. The parallel that is drawn between Gou-ichi and Li Jiamin may be an obvious one, but it is how one's stoicism is mirrored by the other's openness that is more surprising. The moment that Li Jiamin cannot hold back his tears is a fitting ending. You may well be joining him.

Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles looks fine, as much as one might expect it to. Never as visually grandstanding as Hero, there are still some beautifully framed moments in the film and the DVD does these justice, capturing the stark mountains well and giving them a presence that they demand to have. However, at other times, it is quite an anonymous-looking film, more so in the first half hour than later on, but the actual transfer is very decent, perhaps never drawing attention to itself but never a disappointment either. The print that has been used as a source is in good condition and although there is a slight wobble, which is most obvious when set against the subtitles, it never becomes distracting.

The DD5.1 audio track is a good one but also a restrained one, rarely using the rear channels for anything more than ambient effects. Given the nature of the film, one never misses them. The dialogue is clear and there's very little noise in the many silences that make up the second half of the film, but there are a couple of obvious grammatical errors in the subtitles. As a criticism, though, that's hardly worth drawing your attention to and does little to detract from one's enjoyment of the film.

There is a Making Of (18m37s), which does an excellent job of explaining the background to the production, Zhang Yimou's interest in the story after making House Of Flying Daggers, and Yunnan province in China where the film is set. With interviews from Zhang Yimou and Ken Takakura, there isn't a great deal of depth in this feature but it does feel sufficient. There is also a selection of Trailers including Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Capote, Memoirs of a Geisha and Mountain Patrol: Kekexili.

Unlike the rather impressive sets that saw the release of Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, this rather skimps on the bonus material, but as one who often has to endure a seemingly endless amount of behind-the-scenes features, I can't say that I mourn their absence. Frankly, with a twenty-minute making of, there's quite enough here, particularly when the film is as good as this one.

by Eamonn McCusker - DVD Times

January 17, 2006

This professional review refers to Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (DVD-9) (China Version)
Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles sees Zhang Yimou returning to the kind of intimate drama with which he made his name as a director. Eschewing the flashy visuals of Hero and the cheap melodrama of House Of Flying Daggers, Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles tells a simple, yet emotional story about the complex relationships between fathers and their sons. The result is a film with far more depth than Zhang Yimou's recent efforts, and one that is both moving and genuine.

The plot follows Gou-ichi (Ken Takakura, who Western viewers may recognize from Black Rain), a fisherman who travels to Tokyo to visit his son, hospitalized with liver cancer, and with whom he has not spoken in many years. Although his son refuses to see him, Gou-ichi is shown a videotape of one of his son's recent trips to the Yunnan province of China researching folk opera, in which he attempted, but failed to record a performance of the titular opera by Li Jiamin (an actual opera performer, playing himself).

Gou-ichi decides to travel to Yunnan himself, thinking to heal the rift with his son by succeeding where the son failed and capturing the singer on camera. Unfortunately, this turns out to be far more complicated than expected, not least because he speaks no Chinese, and is forced to rely upon Lingo, a friendly local who speaks only basic Japanese, for translation. To make matters worse, it transpires that Li is now in jail, having stabbed a man who insulted him for having an illegitimate son, and is too depressed to perform the opera. Gou-ichi refuses to give up, and embarks on a long journey to Li's remote village with the aim of bringing the performer's unseen son, now eight years old, to visit him in prison.

With the stories of the two fathers and their estranged sons, a parallel becomes apparent between Li, who is openly emotional, weeping at having not seen his son, and Gou-ichi, a silent, stolid man who rarely admits his feelings, even to himself. As the two relationships converge, Gou-ichi meets Li's son and begins to open up, giving the viewer a glimpse into his heart and at the same time revealing more about his own son, with whom he gradually finds that he has more in common with than he previously thought.

Thankfully, Zhang steers well clear of clichés, and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles is warm hearted in a wholly believable way, alternating skillfully between drama and light amusement. The film is frequently quite touching, whether through the central story itself, or the simple acts of kindness and friendship Gou-ichi encounters on his travels. The characters are convincing and interesting, especially Gou-ichi himself (Zhang supposedly wrote the role specifically for Takakura), making for an affecting and compelling story which follows a winding rather than predictable path to its moving conclusion. The supporting cast and the villagers themselves (mostly played by non-actors) are similarly impressive, and give the film a real boost.

Zhang directs the film in an understated style, with a naturalistic approach to scenes and dialogue which lends them an air of realism. The beautiful scenery is captured in an honest, yet breathtaking fashion through a series of static long shots in which the characters are often dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. This gives an impression both of isolation and intimacy, nicely complimenting both the geographical and highly personal sides of Gou-ichi's journey.

Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles is an impressive film, though one which is unlikely to appeal to fans of the director's more recent martial arts popcorn efforts. Free from glamour or pretension, it quietly but effectively tells a very human story in a convincing manner, which communicates emotions through whispers rather than the crass shouting the director has been prone to of late.

Movie Grade: 4/5

Review by James -

This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of
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