The Red Awn (Hongse kanbaiyin) (2007)

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Released 18-Mar-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 100:39
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Cai Shangjun
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Lu Huang
Lu Yulai
Yao Anlian
Shi Junhui
Wang Hong
Fan Jiang
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Huang Zhenyu
Dong Wei

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.00:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes, frequently
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† A father (Yao Anlian) returns to his rural Chinese village after five years working in the city. In his absence his wife has died and his hostile teenage son Yongtao (Lu Yulai) has had his father declared dead by the authorities. The father joins with Yongshan (Shi Junhui) to operate a combine harvester on the harvest trail, taking a resentful Yongtai with them. As they move from farm to farm harvesting the wheat crop they meet other damaged people, such as a woman (Wang Hong) who had been sold into slavery, rescued and was now making her way home and a young girl (Lu Huang) back home for the harvest but hiding from her family the fact that she worked as a prostitute in the city. On the journey father and son seek common ground, if not reconciliation.

†††† The Red Awn or Hongse kanbaiyin is a wonderful film. First time director Cai Shangjun uses long static takes to craft beautiful images of the Chinese landscape, predominately wide fields of waving yellow wheat that stretch into the distance, dwarfing the human characters and the combine harvesters. Sometimes rugged outcrops break the flatness of the fields, stark reminders of another, more hostile world. Although actress Lu Huang (so wonderful in Blind Mountain (2007)) features prominently in the credits and on the DVD cover, her part is only small, although she does make an impact. The film, however, is grounded by a moving, natural performance by Yao Anlian. He is utterly convincing as the aging, flawed father, stoically keeping his thoughts to himself even as they play across his weathered face. His tentative steps towards a relationship with his son are poignant and emotional, and if Lu Yulai as the son is not quite as convincing, he did have a lot to live up to..

†††† The Red Awn is a film about change; change in relationships, change in the seasons, changes in Chinese society as machinery takes over the wheat harvest from humans and the youth leave the land for the city. It is a beautiful, moving film from director Cai Shangjun with a terrific performance by Yao Anlian.

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Transfer Quality


†††† The video of The Red Awn is not the best for a recent film. It is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio is not given by the IMDb but the print does not look cropped.

†††† Much of the film lacks sharpness, although some of the landscapes look wonderful. Colours are on the flat side and while the yellows are good some of the film, especially skin tones, has a red tinge. Blacks are OK but shadow detail would be better as some scenes are quite murky. There are also frequent artefacts; most are quite small but a couple are very noticeable as is the hair at 1:26 and some edge enhancement. However, while there are issues, none are too distracting.

†††† The burnt in English subtitles are a bigger issue. They are in a smallish off-white font that is sometimes unreadable (see 6:05 - :08 for an early example but, unfortunately, there are quite a few other times when they cannot be read). They are in American English spelling, and contain only a few minor errors such as cantí for canít at 82:46.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The only audio choice is a Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 Kbps that is quite good. It is surround encoded and creates a very natural sound stage with the wind across the wheat always in the surrounds, plus occasional other weather effects and music. Dialogue is always clear. There is however occasional hiss, the odd crackle and a noticeable drop out at 50:48.

†††† There were no lip synchronisation issues.

†††† The music by Huang Zhenyu and Dong Wei is an excellent score using a range of Eastern and Western instruments that always added to the filmís moods without ever being intrusive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


†††† Nothing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† I am unable currently to find a release of the film in another region.


†††† The Red Awn is a film about change; change in relationships, change in the seasons, changes in Chinese society. It is a beautiful, moving film from director Cai Shangjun with a wonderful performance from Yao Anlian.

†††† The video sometimes looks stunning but has more issues than a recent film should, the audio is acceptable. There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, April 29, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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