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Zhang Yimou, often regarded as China's leading contemporary filmmaker, directed this drama chronicling the ebb and flow of one family's fortunes, set against the backdrop of China's tumultuous history between the 1940s and the 1970s. Fugui (Ge You) is the father of a once-wealthy family whose addiction to gambling and chronic bad luck causes him to lose his home in a game of dice with Long'er (Ni Dabong). Fugui's wife Jiazhen (Gong Li) abandons him, and he finds himself working as a peddler, until the man who now owns his home gives him a pair of shadow puppets. Fugui learns the art of puppetry and travels as a performer; while on the road, he is arrested by Nationalist forces, until he is liberated by advancing Red Army factions, and he comes him home to his wife and children as they adapt to the nation's new leadership. While once a lazy spendthrift, Fugui vows to change his ways, and he struggles to become a better worker and citizen. But Fugui and his family soon realize that there is adversity waiting for them around every corner, and the onset of the Cultural Revolution makes it clear that China's new regime can be as corrupt and callous as the old order. While a Grand Prize winner at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 1995 BAFTA Awards, Huozhe did not fare well in its homeland. Chinese censors objected to the film's commentary about political abuses in China's past, as well as Zhang Yimou's attempts to present the film at several international festivals. As punishment, he was forced to write a formal apology and was not allowed to make another film for two years. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

  • Release date:November 18, 1994


Awarded by
Cannes Film Festival Zhang Yimou Grand Jury Prize 1994 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Ge You Best Actor 1994 Winner


Ge You
as Fugui
Gong Li
as Jiazhen
Jiang Wu
as Erxi


Zhang Yimou
Chiu Fu-Sheng
Christophe Tseng
Yu Hua
Book Author
Yu Hua
Lu Wei
Lu Yue
Zhao Jiping
Composer (Music Score)
Cao Jiuping
Art Director
Barbara Robinson
Associate Producer
Christophe Tseng
Executive Producer
Dong Huamiao
Costume Designer
Zhang Zhenyan
Production Manager