Pitch this beautiful harvester (Fan Bing Bing) against a backdrop of love, pride and prejudice.
Add in two warring states.
Paint a panoramic landscape of lush, luxuriant wheat meadows.
Set the tone as pulsating, sultry and scorching.
There …. you get an unusual period scenario from which the WHEAT movie takes place.
It’s 260 B.C. and two KINGDOMS reign – the ZHAO and QIN.
They are feuding states and a war ensues.
Here’s how the story takes off.
Lady Li (Fan Bing Bing) marries Lord Ju Cong (Wang Xue Qi). Both are from ZHAO.
Barely enjoying conjugal bliss, Lord Ju Cong and his fellow country men are dispatched immediately, after the hasty marriage, to fight in the battlefields.
Will he return?
Whilst the husbands are at war, their obedient wives are tending to the fields, harvesting.
Typical idyllic, old fashioned fare.
Meanwhile two unruly soldiers from the enemy camp (QIN’s) quit their troops and flee the war.
They are the tough guy So Xia (Huang Jue) and the emotional cry baby Zhe (Du Jia Yi) and they hide in the wheat fields to avoid capture.
They escape by river and arrive at the nearby town of Lu Yi by sheer fate.
Since they know that they are on enemy’s ground, they go around under the guise of being ZHAO soldiers.
But Lady Li and a female shaman (Wang Ji) later become suspicions of their true identities when they give contradictory accounts of their origins.
Then pandemonium breaks.
Lord Chong (Wang Zhi Wen) from the enemy QIN camp storm into town with his soldiers to arrest everyone, including the two deserters.
Now the duo must devise another way of escape to resist capture, punishment and eventual execution.
WHEAT is a simple drama about simple people– deserters and widows, peasants and fortune tellers– who cannot come to terms with the fact that peace is just an abstract word, and that dutiful soldiers must serve their country and fight wars. But what if the battle is fought and lost?
This film could have been a beautifully-crafted historical drama set during the Warring States period.
More form than substance?
There are too many latent flaws, as the story careens from being one serious drama to becoming a slapstick wreck.
In certain scenes some actors tend to overact and this Previewer gets the gnawing feeling that he is sitting in a theater watching a mayhemous stage play.
Is it all all funny that the two deserters often horse around with the women folks,obscenely clothed only in short kilts and thongs?
Were people from those times clothed thus?
Director He Ping (also the writer/producer) attempts too much and tries to present an artsy film that is taut and engrossing.
The bonus is of course,is the presence of beautiful mainland actress FAN BING BING.
She is currently featured in perhaps, 80% of the China’s movie exports to the world.
You tell me.
But discerning audiences are always lapping for more.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
As far as WHEAT is concerned, it’d have been a saving grace if the direction stays more focused, than trying to be everything to everyone.