Shadow Magic
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

This is a cute little movie.  Shadow Magic tells the story of the first person to bring moving pictures to China in 1902.  This film isn't actually telling the real story but imagining what it would have been like.  The films and projector are brought to China by a down-on-his-luck Englishman (Jared Harris).  His wife has left him and wants to make a lot of money and be a success in hopes that she will return to him. He arrives in Beijing without much idea of how to start a business in China.  Luckily, a young Chinese man (Yu Xia) who is obsessed with Western technology offers his services and soon people are flocking to see the picture show.  Xia himself is a metaphor for the transition of China from the old to the new world. He is torn between doing what his father has arranged for him, and what his heart tells him to do.  He falls in love with a beautiful young woman and doesn't want to marry the rich middle-aged widow that his father has in mind.  The young woman's father performs traditional Chinese opera and the picture show is taking business away from him.  So she is torn also. The story doesn't get too complicated, but this film has a nice feeling.  Harris and Xia have a good chemistry together and the supporting cast are amusing.  Harris, by the way, is the son of Richard Harris.  The direction is also interesting from first time director, Ann Hu.  She does a good job recreating life in China at the turn of the last century.  There is none of the complexity of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Yi Yi. It 's just an enjoyable little film.