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cover: World, The (Shi Jie)

World, The (Shi Jie)

Director(s): Jia Zhang Ke

Theatrical Release: 2004

Cast: Zhao Tao, Chen Taisheng, Jing Jue, Jiang Zhong-wei, Wang Yi-qun, Wang Hong Wei

Genre(s): Drama, psychological, romance

Countries: China, Japan, France


Location in store: Asian Cinema

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Running Time: 139m.

Chinese writer/director Jia Zhang Ke's The World is his fourth feature, but it's his first set in a major city, and the first film he's made with the cooperation of the Chinese government. The World is set at the eponymous amusement park in Beijing. Tao (Zhao Tao, who played the Mongolian King girl, Qiao Qiao, in Jia's Unknown Pleasures) is a dancer at the park, which contains scale replicas of landmarks from around the globe. "The Twin Towers were bombed on September 11," says Taisheng (Chen Taisheng), a security guard, proudly, pointing to a miniature New York City skyline, "but ours are still here!" Tao is dating Taisheng, who, like her, moved to Beijing from the provinces for work years earlier. Taisheng thinks Tao is just stringing him along until she finds somebody better, so he gets involved with another woman, Qun (Wang Yi-qun), who makes her living creating knockoffs of Western fashions. Xiaowei (Jing Jue), another dancer, also dates a security guard at the theme park. Niu (Jiang Zhong-wei) is extremely jealous and possessive, and constantly demands to know where Xiaowei spends her time. Youyou (Xiang Wan), who also performs at the park, is secretly dating the boss. When a group of Russian performers comes to work at the park, Tao befriends one of them, despite the language barrier. Friends of Taisheng arrive from the provinces, desperate for work. One of them is injured in a construction accident. The characters often communicate through text messages, which Jia displays in animated sequences. The World was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center at the 2004 New York Film Festival. -- Josh Ralske (allmovie.com)
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