At 3:42am on July 28, 1976, a massive earthquake struck Tangshan, China, devastating the city in merely 23 seconds and resulting in a death toll of more than 240,000. The catastrophe left a gaping wound in the consciousness of the nation, and some 34 years later, China's top director Feng Xiaogang (The Banquet
) offers catharsis with his latest film Aftershock
. Carrying a hefty price tag of RMB200 million, the mega-budget production has raked in an earth-shattering RMB600+ million at the Mainland box office to become the highest grossing local film ever in China, further cementing Feng's status as the No. 1 blockbuster director in Chinese Cinema.
Being the first Chinese film made for the IMAX giant-screen format, the epic production enlisted the services of special effects experts from the US and Korea to depict the terrifying destruction in the stunning opening sequence. But, Aftershock won't settle for being simply a visual spectacle. The film tells a deeply emotional tale centering on a family brutally torn apart by the disaster. Critics have attributed the tremendous power of the film to its touching human drama and the heart-wrenching performances from the cast that includes Xu Fan (Feng's better half), popular actress Zhang Jingchu, Li Chen (Assembly), Lu Yi (Seven Swords), Zhang Guoqiang, and award-winning actor Chen Daoming.
Based on the novel Aftershock by Zhang Ling, the film follows a family who fell victims in the Tangshan Earthquake. The father, Fang Daqiang (Zhang Guoqiang), was crushed dead while trying to rescue his children, Fang Deng and Fang Da, who were trapped in the house. Unable to save both kids, the mother, Li Yuanni (Xu Fan), is forced to sacrifice Fang Deng for her feeble younger brother Fang Da, a decision that proved agonizing for the entire family. It turns out that Fang Deng survived the quake and was adopted by a couple in the aftermath. Thirty-two years later (2008), the grown-up Fang Deng (Zhang Jingchu) would finally cross paths with Fang Da (Li Chen) in Wenchuan, Sichuan...