Devils on the Doorstep

A Grand Prix winner at Cannes, this darkly comic antiwar film (2000) is masterfully directed by actor Wen Jiang (Red Sorghum), who stars as a hapless peasant in 1944 China. His coastal village is occupied by the Japanese, and he's terrified when a mysterious stranger orders him at gunpoint to hide and interrogate a foulmouthed Japanese POW (Teruyuki Kagawa) and his Chinese translator. Much of the comedy derives from the interpreter's deliberate mistranslations, but the humor takes a macabre turn when the villagers decide their secret guests have outstayed their welcome. As the war winds down, an attempted rapprochement between occupied and occupiers leads to a shocking conclusion, searing in its irony. In Mandarin and Japanese with subtitles. 139 min.

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