Hong Kong / Taiwan 1997, 139 min, English subtitles
Beijing, Summer 1970, the young recruits live on the grounds of the military academy, which is also their ‘headquarters’. When they do not happen to be skipping lessons, they are fighting rival groups or watching out for girls. Gang leader Liu Yiku has a relationship with Yu Beipei, but she is more interested in Monkey Ma. He, in turn, is far too interested in an older girl to even notice … The film provides a disturbing glimpse into a time when young people could more or less do what they pleased in a Beijing devoid of all values in the wake of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
The traumatic decade of the Cultural Revolution is unparalleled in Chinese history. Two films take a look at this era: one from the perspective of adults, and the other from that of youths. They convey the almost total disorientation so prevalent at the time, which left people with little but their bare lives.