Xingfu shiguang   2001   China Happy Times
Happy Times Image Cover
Additional Images
Director:Yimou Zhang
Studio:Guangxi Film Studio
Writer:Yan Mo, Gai Zi
IMDb Rating:7.4 (2,584 votes)
Awards:3 wins & 1 nomination
Genre:Drama, Comedy
Duration:102 min
Yimou Zhang  ...  (Director)
Yan Mo, Gai Zi  ...  (Writer)
Benshan Zhao  ...  Zhao
Jie Dong  ...  Wu Ying
Lifan Dong  ...  Stepmother
Biao Fu  ...  Little Fu
Xuejian Li  ...  Li
Qibin Leng  ...  Wu Ying's Stepbrother
Ben Niu  ...  Old Niu
Jinghua Gong  ...  Aunty Liu
Hongjie Zhang  ...  Lao Zhang
Bingkun Zhao  ...  Lao Bai
Honglei Sun  ...  Customer at 'Happy Times'
Yong Hou  ...  Cinematographer
Bao San  ...  Composer
Comments: I love Zhang Yimou when he does these common-people flicks. This one is funny, touching and real. A fifty-something guy, who so desperately wants to get married and have someone to snuggle with at night, ends up housing and employing the beautiful eighteen year old blind step-daughter of some really unattractive and overweight woman as a sign of his commitment. The fat woman doesn't want the girl because she is a hassle to take care of and the girl was abandoned and dumped on her by some previous loser dude anyway.

As part of his marriage scheme the man lies to the woman, telling her he is the manager of a hotel. But the hotel is nothing more than an abandoned bus in a park that a friend of his had convinced him to slap a coat of paint on and charge young couples to sit inside it and make out. The man had at first hired the daughter to clean up the bus between customers, but when the city hauls the bus away as part of a beautifying the parks campaign the guy is forced to find other means to employ the girl who possesses nothing but cleaning and massage skills. Him and several of his retired friends construct a massage parlor room inside an old warehouse and then take turns getting massages from the girl. He has to pay his friends to get the massages, and they in turn give the money to the girl for tips. The farce can't go on forever, as the guy doesn't have much money to begin with, and it doesn't.

There is some controversy about how this film should have or could have ended. Suffice to say it's pretty sad, and left rather unresolved. So you just have to accept it and be kind of bummed out (but in a good way if you go for that kind of thing). Dong Jie turns in a sweet and convincing performance as the young blind girl. There is nothing creepy about the film at all. Ebert doesn't get it.

Summary: Zhao is an aging bachelor who hasn't been lucky in love. Thinking he has finally met the woman of his dreams, Zhao leads her to believe he is wealthy and agrees to a wedding far beyond his means. Zhao's best friend Li hatches the idea to raise the money by refurbishing an abandoned bus, which they will rent out by the hour--the Happy Times Hotel--to young couples starved for privacy. Unfortunately, this plan goes awry because Zhao is too old fashioned to allow the couples to leave the bus door closed.

Meanwhile, Zhao's fiancee introduces him to her spoiled son and beautiful blind stepdaughter Wu Ying, whom she sees as a burden. To be rid of the girl, she insists that Zhao take her to the Happy Times Hotel and give her a job. Zhao reluctantly agrees, then creates a series of deceptions to keep the girl occupied, including setting her up as a masseuse and enlisting his friends to pretend to be her customers. Everything that is happening between Zhao and Wu is superficially about trickery, but gradually a very real empathy grows between the young woman and the old man.

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