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Red Corner [VHS]
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Product Description

Using a faulty thriller for his soapbox as an outspoken critic of China, a devout follower of the Dalai Lama, and an influential supporter of Tibetan freedom, Richard Gere resorts to the equivalent of propagandistic drama to deliver a heavy-handed message. In other words, Red Corner relies on a dubious strategy to promote political awareness, but director Jon Avnet appeals to the viewer's outrage with such effective urgency that you're likely to forget you're being shamelessly manipulated. Gere plays a downtrodden TV executive who sells syndicated shows on the global market, and during a business trip to China he finds himself framed for the murder of the sexy daughter of a high Chinese official. Once trapped in a legal system in which his innocence will be all but impossible to prove, Gere must rely on a Chinese-appointed lawyer (played by Bai Ling) who first advises him to plead guilty but gradually grows convinced of foul play. Barely attempting to hide its agenda, Red Corner effectively sets the stage for abundant anti-Chinese sentiment, and to be sure, the movie gains powerful momentum with its tale of justice gone awry. It's a serious-minded, high-intensity courtroom drama with noble intentions ... but did it have to be so conspicuously lacking in subtlety? --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • "Why Is The Bamboo Here" ~ Murder, Mystery And Romance Behind The Bamboo Curtain
    `Red Corner' released in '97 is a surprisingly taunt, entertaining and subdued romantic murder mystery.

    Synopsis: Jack Moore (Richard Gere) is an American businessman entrapped within the Chinese Communist legal system. He awakens from a romantic one night stand to find himself accused of the grisly murder of a beautiful Chinese woman. A woman who also happens to be the daughter of a powerful Communist official, Jack pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears until he convinces his attorney Shen Yuelin (Ling Bai) that he is being framed. Can one lone female voice halt the powerful forces that seek the death of the American?

    Richard Gere delivers a strong performance, but Ling Bai is the real star as the demure, yet strong willed and beautiful attorney. `Red Corner' is a little strong handed in its depiction of justice behind the Bamboo Curtain, but the story and romance make it well worth the time....more info
  • Red Corner...
    Whatever you do, don't mess up in the People's Republic of China. That's the message I received from this film. Richard Gere and Bai Ling do an excellent job in this film. It's a wonder that the film didn't do any better than it did.

    This was a good murder/suspense film. Richard Gere's character did really have everything on the line - with the U.S. Government helpless to help him. See for yourself...Four stars......more info
  • Cornered!
    I'm sometimes taken aback when conservative commentators (like Laura Ingraham) pose rhetorical questions like: Why doesn't Hollywood make as many anti-Communist films as it does anti-Nazi ones? She literally asked why if there was a Schindler's list, why there no STALIN'S LIST. Now, while it may be true that many Hollywood denizens are politically a bit left of center, is it really the case that, unbeknownst to us in the unsuspecting public, they've been glorifying Communist ideals and furthering its cause almost two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union?

    I suppose if you were to cite RED CORNER as a film which takes on the last remaining Communist superpower, Ms Ingraham and her fellow rightwing pundits would respond that a. it's a rare exception; b. the only reason, these liberal filmmakers are criticizing a Communist government is because of that regime's abuses against Tibet, an even more beloved "liberal cause," and c. China is portrayed in the film as a society that is being essentially corrupted by Western influences anyway.

    In other words, you can't win. If Hollywood makes a contemporary "anti-Communist" film these days, its motives will still be suspect. A liberal guy like Richard Gere is still a "Buddhist" liberal after all, and so he may be a little more loyal to the Dalai Lama than, say, to Mao Zedong. But hey, he probably like Mao more than George Bush. Dollars to donuts.

    So ideology aside, how effective is RED CORNER in purely cinematic terms? It actually is fairly well made, and reasonably suspenseful. The cast is attractive and capable, and the cinematography, editing and Jon Avnet's direction are all solid. There's a fairly ludicrous chase scene, but then what action movie doesn't have one of those. Thematically, as some have noted, it plays into latent fears of every American traveling or living abroad about what could happen if one gets into serious legal trouble in another country--especially, a country (any country) not known for protecting the rights of the accused. In short, even those who oppose the movie's political or cultural commentary can't deny it's a fairly effective piece of filmmaking.

    Some will also find the movie of interest as a cultural snapshot of life in the rapidly developing, post-Mao China. It's a flawed picture, no doubt, but the film does evoke the tensions between the urbane neo-capitalists of the 90s and the Old Guard Communists in governmental, military and legal realms. It's a fuzzy picture, to be sure, and the movie can be faulted for heavyhandedness, but I cannot think of too many other dramtatic films that have even treated the topic of China's internal tensions at all, let alone any better than RED CORNER does. In that, it reminds of another cinematic attempt to portray some potentially profound changes in a Communist society; namely, the similarly themed, sometimes awkward mix of suspense and commentary, the 1985 Russian based potboiler WHITE NIGHTS.

    Something I read recently reminded me that RED CORNER was released on the eve of a US visit by (I believe) Deng Xiouping. If the timing of the release was as cynical and manipulative as it appears to have been, then it really does undermine any serious message the film might have otherwise offered. Just what role (if any) Richard Gere might have had in this minor international embarrassment is unclear. It is pretty clear where his political sympathies lie and why he may have been drawn to the project. Still it would be a mistake to label Gere OR the film "anti-Chinese." Gere's court heroic, court appointed lawyer (played with real presence by the deservedly popular Bai Ling)serves as a reminder that there are concerned Chinese citizens out to foster and preserve justice. Like the "good German" or "good Russian" character of yore, she's there, at least in part, to remind us viewers that there are good people everywhere.

    Like all people of good will, Gere and Co. are, in spirit, anti-tyranny and anti-injustice. Viewers will have to decide whether or not they make their statement sufficiently well.

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  • Gere needs to find a more constructive raison d'etre
    The commercial was enough to raise my blood pressure and turn my stomach. I spent a year teaching English in Mainland China. Unfortunately, I didn't visit Tibet and I don't want to seem unsympathetic to their plight. It's just that America and Hollywood, which is often a symptom of America, need to get off this self-righteous kick of trying to enlighten the rest of the world and tell everyone else how they should live.

    Contrast this with the plot in Red Corner: When an American "teacher" in my group got his 14 year-old student pregnant he was quietly sent home and she got kicked out of school for a year. If a visiting Chinese teacher got an American 14 year-old pregnant he probably would have gone to prison.

    I want encourage those who would consider jumping on Gere's bandwagon how they might react in the actual event of the following hypothetical scenarios. ALL I HAVE DONE IS REVERSE THE NATIONALITIES.

    1. Gere's Chinese counterpart, aging heartthrob Chow Yun Fat befriends descendents of Hawaii's deposed royal family and goes on a righteous crusade to re-instate them as monarchy and give Hawaii back to the native people.

    2. Jet Li writes, produces, and stars in Yankee Justice. Li plays a Chinese US citizen wrongly accused of spying. Under the Patriot Act Li is whisked away to a secret location in Eastern Europe, without due process, for an indefinite period. Li is manacled, shackled and smacked around repeatedly while being interrogated. He manages to get just free enough to launch a surprise attack and kick some serious Homeland Securities. He makes a dramatic escape into the night and hops on the Orient Express. He disembarks in Beijing where kisses the ground and begs for repatriation. He is hailed as a hero and a martyr.

    3. A paramilitary group launches a coup d'etat against Jeb Bush, attempts to seal off the Florida peninsula, and secede from the US. Even though America's military is busy fighting over something in Iraq it's nothing we can't handle. But wait! Mainland China remembering America's generous support for the Guomindang (Kuomintang) when they fled to Taiwan decides to send soldiers to support Florida's independence. Since their population is about five times that of the US, and increasingly male, they can spare a few troops. A bit of historical trivia; before China "acquired" Taiwan it was inhabited by 16 tribes of indigenous people whom they decimated. Sound a little like American history?

    I hope to eventually to return to China to visit friends. For the record I am much more concerned about being a victim of random violence in the US than being framed by the PLA (The People's Liberation Army). By the way one of my Chinese students, here in the US, was the victim of a random murder last year. I know it's not exotic, glamorous, or sexy, but Americans should be more concerned about random violence, corporate corruption, social security, and universal healthcare. These issues will affect just about every American in some way at some point.

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  • Underrated Political/Courtroom Drama
    For about a dozen years, it was hard to find too many films Richard Gere made which weren't interesting and well-made. This was no exception. Once again, he "delivers the goods" and is involved in an interesting story.

    Gere, a follower, I believe, of the Dalai Lama whom the Communists forced out of Tibet, uses this film to get his shots in at his mentor's enemy. Anyone who thinks this is just a coincidence is pretty naive. Nonetheless, the facts support the film's stark, brutal portrayal of Communist China's leadership. At the very least, it shows a regime unwilling to hear both sides of a story. (Hollywood has often given the same treatment to the U.S. government, showing it more often in a corrupt light, which is ludicrous compared to restrictive Communist China.)

    Anyway, Gere really dominates this film, being in almost every scene. This is your basic frameup-then-prove-your-innocence courtroom story. It keeps your attention throughout although I thought the ending was a bit confusing because things happened almost too fast for the viewer to take in. At two hours, the film could have been trimmed a tad but the lulls in here were not much.

    Overall, an underrated film and unjustly criticized by the national critics, most of whom don't like it when communism is bashed. ...more info
  • You have to desire change from deep down in your mind
    This is a poignant film about today's world and how change can come to a country, any country. In this case we are dealing with China. Corrupted people are framing up an American TV man in order to prevent a contract being signed that does not go in the right direction for their interests. The point is that the corrupted and plotting official is the son of a highly respected man, a son who was educated in the West and brought back his corruption, or at least a good knowledge and know how about it, from his foreign sojourn. He is using the opaque situation in changing China to cover up his dealings and has a little group of plotters and accomplices to manage his operations. But the film tries to show how the Chinese today are realizing from their own experience and history, even from their own culture that includes Mao Zedong and a couple other revolutionaries, that they have to change in their own minds and then change their country. This cannot come from outside, especially not from the US that is no model, neither social nor economic nor even political, but it has to come from inside, from deep down in the souls, the minds and the spirits of the Chinese. What is most difficult for us to understand is that the Chinese live on a completely different set of principles and concepts and that they have to invent a new open society from their very concepts and philosophy. Democracy for example cannot be the same thing in China and the USA or France, for the very simple reason that it is not the same in the USA, Great Britain, France of Italy, not to speak of Japan and Finland. There is not one model. There are many models that are therefore no models at all. The film very carefully and cautiously tries to show us how the mind of a person can open little by little when confronted to real life if that person is simply honest with himself or herself, with his or her own principles, with his or her conception of justice. This leads that person to considering the very concept of human being, of individual, of subject, of what is necessary for that individual to feel free and happy. The very point we are confronted to with China is that it is one fourth of humanity or so and no one has any interest in a brutal and uncontrolled change in a direction that is not carried and supported by the heritage of the country, its history, its culture. The United States have a strange but understandable reaction in front of the rest of the world because they are all the descendants of immigrants who left a culture and a history behind them to build out of conscious and willful choices a new history and a new culture, a heritage that became something that had to be built out of nothing or very little. They cannot understand that other countries will not be able to do any change that would break up the fabric and material of the country itself. If you did that you would provoke a ferocious reaction that could just wash you away in one wink of an eye. Actually the Americans today are not better or worse than other countries and peoples. If we from outside told them you have to rationalize your political system on the let's say German model, they would jump to the sky, and yet how can we accept that the political system is not the same in all the states, that citizens have to publicly declare themselves democrat or republican to be able to take part in the primaries, which goes against the very principle of democracy which is the secrecy of our political choices and our ballots. And If Europeans told the United States that they have to ban the death penalty within one or two or three years to be granted the privilege of being recognized as a democracy and keep the status of permanent veto-endowed member of the Security Council of the United Nations that could be withdrawn from them because of their not having banned the death penalty, they would react violently and viciously. Yet to join the European Community you have to ban the death penalty. This film is a marvelous demonstration of this fascinating question, even if it is slightly sentimental.

    Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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    This movie is a very well acted movie. Everyone should see it. Richard Gere and Bai Ling are perfect in this movie. This movie gives you an insight to the Chinese Legal system....more info