Men, women and the movie Landing (Luo4 Niao3)

Huiquan Zhao

A few weeks ago, one of my friends called me, asking for my attendance to a so called "movie review and discussion". I went and met about 10 others there.

The movie is entitled "Landing (Luo4 Niao3)", directed by a mainland Chinese woman (she is also the leading actress), and scripted by her husband who has published a few novels. The director/actress used to be a fashion designer and later studied movie directing. This movie is perhaps the only movie that I know of directed and produced by mainlanders in a foreign land, with its funding from a mainland company.

The general story is about two women who came to Canada and involved in a number of relationships and finally they come together and become.... well, lesbian lovers. The leading role (Woman A) is a middle-aged mother who comes to Canada alone to visit her husband, leaving her child in China. The other woman (Woman B) is a young, beautiful but odd-ball type of girl who comes to Canada for God-knows-what reasons.

When Woman A lands at the airport, she does not meet her husband because he died in a fatal accident on the way to picking her up. She then stays overnight at a white middle-aged man's home (magic!). The next day she goes to see her husband with that man, without knowing that he is already dead. It turns out that her husband had been living with a girl, who later becomes a prostitute, serving the mainland Chinese singles.

Woman A starts living with the white man. One day she says that she is pregnant and that he has to marry her. Reluctantly he agrees. She gets permanent resident status.

Not long after, she is told that he was seen kissing a young girl under a tree at a school playground. She decides to leave him. Life becomes a real struggle now. But gradually she manages to handle it.

Woman B comes to Canada all by herself. As a stranger, a Chinese professor (Man A) helps her find an apartment on her arrival. When he leaves her apartment and walks down to the street, Woman B suddenly runs to him and grabs him from behind. They go back and start to make love. Of course, he lies to his pregnant wife the next day. Man A cares about Woman B. But he is not able to see her again.

Later on the professor meets Woman A and starts a relationship with her. She wants to have him of her own, but he would not leave her wife and family. She feels hurt again.

All in all, Woman A is not a bad character, which is perhaps the best part of the entire movie in terms of both story and performance.

Then there comes another Chinese guy (Man B) who works as waiter. At the end of the month, when Woman B is unable to pay her rent, she runs to the arms of of the waiter. A relationship between these two then develops. Unfortunately, Man B is a bad luck sort of guy and gets hit and injured by a car. Woman B goes to the restaurant as a substitute. The owner of the restaurant, an old and rich Chinese who is impotent, gets interested in Woman B and kicks Man B out the moment he lays his eyes on her. She does not love him, but decides to accept him, enduring the old fart's ugly appearance and impotence.

There are some other minor episodes in between, all about Chinese men who are interested in sex but are either too chicken to do it or do it irresponsibly. There seems quite a few extra-marital affairs.

Anyway, Woman A has tried to find a man she can trust, love and have a family life with, but failed miserably, while Woman B wants to commit suicide after all her frustrations. Both women are tired of the games with men. So they finally come together, and start kissing each other. The movie ends there.

Luo Niao is kind of erotic in a way. There are too many "bed plays" which usually have about 30% body exposure, not realistic at all.

I left the discussion early. But in my opinion, 1) I would vote the music for an award; 2) the movie as a whole can not be rated as an artistic success; and 3) Chinese men are portrayed as irresponsible, greedy, and disgusting.

I have watched three movies of this kind. When I watched "The Joy Luck Club" with a Canadian, I asked him what he thinks about the movie, he said something like: you Chinese guys are terrible. The other movie I saw is called "People in New York" or something like that. It's all women's story; in the end, three Chinese girls all get crazy and drinking wine in a park. They feel betrayed and disappointed by Chinese men and can only find their like among themselves, not among men.

These movies are really misleading. Are we Chinese men really that bad? Or is there a remedy for us? :-)

I understand that the movie industry and literature in general weighs women's story more than men's. The more you say about women, it seems that the more audience you will attract. What I think is unfair is perhaps what one of my friends has described: Chinese/oriental men are only good in doing the things that are defined by stereotypes. This is misleading since there are bad and good people in men as well as in women. But what you see in the movie is that Chinese men are chicken, selfish, irresponsible and have no character, as one friend suggested. It made me even more angry when all these are portrayed in Chinese-made movies.

Luo4 Niao3 is indeed a low budget movie, something under $400,000. Cdn. I shall mention that this movie is the director's first product. When she was shooting the movie, she told some of the actors and actresses: we are using a small budget to shoot a big Hollywood movie.

Luo4 Niao3 is not a movie talking about overseas Chinese students. It is about those who come here to pursue things other than higher education, at least not the graduate study type of education that we pursue. Another interesting point raised by others in the meeting is it portrays in a way the sex liberation of Chinese women, which I do not agree.

Here is a stereotype I have heard over and over again. When talking about Chinese men and women, some argue that it may be that men love in a broader way while women love in a deeper way. Men can and are capable of loving many women in many different ways and have a good sense in distinguishing different loves, like loving one's mother, sister and wife is different from loving a girlfriend. When men fall in love, they are quick and real, but they have a strong hold of responsibility. For example, a man may have a love affair with another woman very truly and dearly, but he might not after all leave his wife because he still loves his wife. While women, on the other hand, are at first reluctant and slow in a relation, but once in love, they will give up everything and just go for the whole thing. I remember Echo (San1 Mao2) saying that women in their lives only ask for two things -- love and money. They weigh love more than anything else, except sometimes perhaps money. Furthermore, women do not allow their beloved ones to share his love with anybody else even though they know that love may have different aspects. That is one of the many reasons why wives rarely have good relationship with their mother-in-laws, while most men do with theirs.

I myself may agree with some points of the aforementioned stereotypes. However, it should not be used to reflect any judgment on men or women for good or bad per se. Every individual is different, every person is unique. That I write this is meant to lead or mislead this discussion. :-)