Movie Review: The Message (2009) – Chinese Movie

the message cover

The Message (Feng Sheng) is an espionage-thriller set in a Japanese-invaded China during WW2 that depicts intelligence warfare between government and resistance. The Japanese-controlled puppet government faces casualties by way of assassinations orchestrated by resistance spies, thus a Commander uses the tactic of ‘feeding the mole’ to weed the spy out. The task of sending out false intel and tracing it is the easy part, as the film focuses on the confinement and interrogation of suspects. A little psychological cat-and-mouse play quickly becomes gruesome torture in order to uncover a guilty confession. The movie definitely makes you question characters and relationships as the stars pull off a unique ensemble.

Tension is high throughout as the amount of apparent ‘sides’ is unclear when comrade-suspects are pitted against each other. Lines quickly blur and clues or assumed clues add to the confusion. But it’s an enjoyable confusion. Whoever the code-breaking spy is also has to send out a message about the predicament without being compromised — or killed. The antagonizing and evil Commander and his Chinese underling do everything in their power and everything imaginable (or unimaginable) to pin the tail on the donkey. The Message is engaging and explicitly powerful in showing duress vs. integrity. It tried a bit hard when it comes to being eerie and dark ie. haunted mansion or animated evil villains but is entertaining even with over the top elements. More so, there’s a good chance viewer suspicions will get ahead of themselves for better or worse.

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Directed by: Qunshu Gao // Kuo-fu Chen

Starring: Xun Zhou //Hanyu Zhang // Bingbing Li // Xiaoming Huang // Zhiwen Wang

Reviews: CN Reviews // Love HK Film // Twitch // Variety // Opionator

aparoo recommends: Lust, Caution — another entertaining espionage-thriller

aparoo’s words: espionage, thriller, drama, spies, government, resistance, war, invasion, torture

aparoo says 4/5

Download: Asia Torrents

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