FILM: The Flowers of War (15)

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ZHANG Yimou directs this sweeping historical drama set during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when Japanese troops seized the Chinese city of Nanking and murdered and raped thousands of defenceless civilians.

Based on the novel 13 Flowers Of Nanjing by Geling Yan, the story revolves around American mortician John Miller (Christian Bale) who arrives in Nanking shortly after the invasion to bury the head priest of a convent school for Catholic girls.

Miller quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict when he is forced to pose as the school’s priest to protect the teenage schoolgirls from marauding Japanese troops.

Miller also allows a group of local prostitutes to hide in the convent’s cellars rather than suffer the wrath of the invaders.

Japanese Colonel Hasegawa (Atsuro Watanabe) agrees to spare the convent from the atrocities if the girls will sing for his troops – a firm request which Miller feels certain is a ruse to lure his wards to a grim fate.

So the mortician declines Hasegawa’s invitation but the Colonel makes clear that the girls will perform or suffer the horrific consequences.

Yimou’s film is released simultaneously on DVD and Blu-ray.

Released: August 3 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)