Yi ge he ba ge (One and Eight) (1983)

 

 

 

Director:     Jun-Zhao Zheng.

Starring:     Daoming Chen, Xiaoyan Lu, Zeru Tao. 

eight criminals and a deserting Chinese officer in the communist Eighth Route Army

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

In the early stage of the Anti-Japanese War, blood and fire are seen throughout Northern China.  The Communists formed a United Front to fight the Japanese.  In the cruel mop-up campaign of Japanese invaders Xu Zhi, Section Chief in charge of eliminating traitors, is taking under escort three bandits, three lamsters (?), a spy and a drug dealer.  Along with the prisoners is the political instructor Wangjin who did not have the opportunity for a trial. 

Wangjin is thrown in with the prisoners.  He bangs on the prison cell door demanding that they get his commander here.  The commander will be able to prove Wangjin's innocence.  The guards tell him to shut up and calm down.  He doesn't so they come into the cell to investigate.  They see that the prisoners are trying to escape, so all the prisoners have their hands tied behind their backs. 

The next day the men are moved elsewhere  --  to a huge hole in the ground.  One of the prisoners, Little Dog, is sick.  Apparently the prisoners still made their escape attempt.  They killed one the guards, but no prisoner will admit that it was he who killed the man .  The prisoners argue amongst themselves about the matter.   

A nurse comes down into the hole to check on Little Dog.  The prisoners harass the nurse a bit and she quickly leaves the hole.  Some of the men start beating up the prisoner who perhaps was a spy for the Japanese.  The nurse tells Xu Zhi that she doesn't think that Wangjin is a criminal like the others.  He is very different from them.  She goes back to the hole.  The nurse works on Little Dog and the spy. 

The communist soldiers move out and the prisoners are forced to go with them.  It is an exhausting walk and Little Dog cries that he cannot go on.  He asks to be shot.  The other prisoners get Little Dog moving.  Another prisoner sits down and refuses to get up.  He says that he will die anyway.  Xu tells the prisoners that they can perform a meritorious service to atone for their crimes.  Wangjin carries the man.  The men keep walking, walking. 

The soldiers come upon a mass of civilians killed by the Japanese.  They are aghast at the scene.  One of the prisoners asks the nurse to plead for mercy for Wangjin because he doesn't look like a criminal. 

Wangjin has a chat with his fellow prisoners.  He says that it is not easy being a soldier for the Eighth Route Army.  He tells the men:  What senseless lives they have lived!  And he asks them if they are at all Chinese? 

Xu has heard a lot about Wangjin's case.  He calls him out to talk with him.  Wangjin tells Xu that he was framed and wants an immediate investigation.   Xu tells him that his (Wangjin's) commander is already dead and can't help him.  Is there anyone else?  Wangjin will have to think about that.  But it is clear to Wangjin that Section Chief Xu does want to do right by him. 

Xu has his own problems. He and his unit have lost contract with the main force.  The nurse stops to tell Xu that Wangjin is not a criminal.  Xu has the three bandits sent to him.  He asks them where are the bandit headquarters?  But the bandits will not tell him.  So Xu sends for Wangjin.  He tells him that they are going to try to break through the Japanese lines. 

The unit gets into a fierce fight with the Japanese.  Xu calls out to free the prisoners!  The unit takes heavy casualties.  The nurse looks for men to help but many of them are already dead.  The Japanese burst into the defensive positions of the Chinese.  Xu runs to free the prisoners, but he is hit and goes down.  The prisoners themselves are yelling to be set free.  They will fight the Japanese.  Finally, Xu is brought in near the prisoners and is bandaged up by the nurse.  Xu tells the guard to release the prisoners.  They are released.

The prisoners grab weapons and start attacking the Japanese.  But one of the prisoners sets out to find the spy to kill him.  The prisoners start getting killed one after another.  Wangjin has to call a retreat!  He and the survivors start retreating.  There are two groups of them.  One group is composed of three people: a prisoner, the nurse and prisoner Little Dog.  With Wang is another group of three.  With him is the wounded Xu and a prisoner who wants to leave Xu behind so he won't slow them up. 

The older prisoner leaves the nurse and Little Dog to go get some water.  By the time he gets back the Japanese have surrounded Little Dog and the nurse.  He watches as Little Dog is killed.  The older prisoner then sees the Japanese start to rape the nurse.  He can't stand it anymore and shoots two of the soldiers dead.  He then attacks the other soldiers.  The nurse knocks one of them out and the prisoner kills the others.  The nurse then tells the prisoner that they should go.  Xu and Wangjin will be waiting for them.  They start walking. 

The prisoner with Xu and Wangjin leaves the group.  He does, however, pledge to Wangjin that he shall no longer abuse the common people and he will respect the Eighth Route Army and brave it out with the Japanese devils.  He starts walking away from the two men.  He looks back to see them watching him as he walks away. 

 

Neither my wife nor I liked the movie.  It was very slow.  It picked up only when the Japanese arrived and the fight was on.  The only thing good about the film was that it was not a long movie.  There is not that much history here either.  I would watch something else about the Chinese struggle with the brutal Japanese. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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