Lost In Beijing (Ping guo) (2007) • China

Lost In Beijing PosterChina's weird. Didn't we just learn from the Olympic Committee that there's billions of people living there? I think we did. Why then is this one of only a few films I can think of, off the top of my head, coming from there that has any semblance of lived-life-now? Lived life now under peculiar circumstances, sure, because it is a movie after all, but still. Everything else seems to be costumed drama kung fu palace historical Mao-sanctioned fantasy crap. I'm talking mainland China here. Taiwan and Hong Kong don't count. Ang Lee doesn't count. All the Chinese filmmakers making films in other parts of the world, and getting them financed and released in other parts of the world, don't count—and there's the rub.

Lost in Beijing is banned in China and its filmmakers are banned for two years from making films in China. What kind of nonsensical time-out is that? I mean no disrespect to the Chinese, I just want more of them to fall through the cracks and make films like Lost in Beijing—which is nothing like Farewell My Hero's Kingdom of Flying Yellow Flowers.

Fan Bingbing, known in the west as Bingbing Fan, stars in this film as Liu Ping Guo (Ping Guo, the Chinese title, translates literally as "Apple"), a foot massage girl who is raped by her boss (played out-of-this-worldly great by Tony Leung Ka Fai who's been in enough movies that every Chinese citizen could pick a film of his to see without any two people seeing the same film—western audiences may know him as the guy who has sex with Marguerite Duras in The Lover), and the rape is witnessed by her husband, a window washer who just happens to be hanging from a scaffolding washing the windows of the room at the massage parlor where the rape takes place. Foot massage is big business in China so I guess that's why this massage parlor is some kind of skyscraper that needs these scaffolded window washers, but I digress. The husband sees this as an opportunity to milk a little money from the well to do parlor owner. Lost in Beijing turns a critical eye toward the new moneyed urban class set against the rural, immigrant-in-their-own-country, if you will, working class.

Bingbing's husband confronts Tony's wife with the rape news and demands money for his pain and suffering, yes, you read that right, his pain and suffering. Tony's wife laughs at him and suggests a better revenge would be for him to have sex with her, and then in a moment of barely noticed brilliance while she's riding him cowgirl puts sunglasses on him so she can't see him looking at her.

It turns out Bingbing is pregnant and things get a little more complicated. If you complain when a film uses overly convenient plot devices to move forward you probably won't like this film as much as I do. I'm more concerned with the caliber of the characters. All four of the main performances in Lost in Beijing are magnificent. (Tony's relationship with, and handling of, his over sized wallet/day-planner is hilarious, as is his response of randomly checking the top of his head for bald spots when he's busted for trying to use a mirror to peek at Bingbing in the shower.) The direction is good and the camerawork creative, sometimes a little too creative to the point where I got dizzy a couple times so I'm deducting a point for that. Beijing is the backdrop here, captured in all its beautiful gray and bustling self.



  1. Marguerite Duras didn't do the 'bedroom shuffle' with Tony Leung Ka Fai in 'The Lover'. The delectable minx who lives on in our wet dreams even till this very day was none other than Jane March. Nobody could ever wear an apron like her...oops that was 'Color of Night' with Bruce Willis. In 'The Lover' she was wearing very little else for the duration of the movie other than her skin.

    Duras is the author who wrote the novel from which the film was based upon. As Jane March's once upon a time admirers (more for her perky rump than her acting chops, really) we request that her name be revived accordingly.

    Bless you, soundwave. Doh! We meant sitenoise.

  2. 1minutefilmreview, what you write is true, but I wrote "western audiences may know him as the guy who has sex with Marguerite Duras in The Lover" which is what I think is true, and it seemed a more fitting tag to the exaggerated tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Tony's accomplishments I was trying to paint.

    In the case of an error on my part I would certainly honor a request from my friends at the hilariously inventive quickiefilmreview to correct it, but in this case I stand by poetic license with link to Wikipedia.

  3. This is a film I want to see. And I too was a lover of The Lover, and I loved Tony then, and wanted to be Duras or Jane March, whoever. He's one very lovely man.

  4. Tony's a bit different here ...

    It's a terrible trailor, but check it out: