Saturday, 22 May 2010

I have been watching ...

Yesterday I managed to watch the third of the foreign language DVDs I recently bought, and in many ways it proved to be best of the three.

ASSEMBLY is a Chinese film that deals with an incident during the Chinese Civil War. A group of soldiers were ordered to hold one bank of a river until they were ordered to fall back. That order never came, and the unit held out against overwhelming odds until it was destroyed. Because this ferocious delaying action was not witnessed by anyone other than the attackers, the unit was thought to have run away and deserted to the enemy.

The sole survivor – the unit's commanding officer, who was wounded and rendered unconscious during the battle – then made it his mission to prove that the men under his command had died where they stood, and had not run away.

What makes this DVD stand out is the quality of the battle scenes. They are ferocious in content, and unlike many war films they are long and seem very realistic. In particular, the makers seem to have taken great pains to get the thing to look 'right'. The tanks used by the attackers are not originals, but have been mocked up on existing Chinese AFV chassis so that they look convincing except in very close-up shots.

I thoroughly recommend this DVD, especially as it deals with a subject that is not well known to many people in the West.

PS. Make sure that you select the English subtitles option. I forgot to, and after five minutes I had to stop watching it so that I could go back to the beginning of the DVD to do so.


  1. I saw "Assembly" a couple of weeks ago too, and agree that it's a stupendous film, and probably about the only one on the Civil War that is likely to reach more than a tiny Western audience.

  2. Itmurnau,

    What is surprising is that AXIS OF WAR - which is also about the Chinese Civil War but set much earlier than the period when the incidents featured in ASSEMBLY take place - has also become available so soon after ASSEMBLY's release on DVD.

    They almost seem to be like buses; there is never a film about the Chinese Civil War available and then several come along together!

    All the best,



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