By Mei HU


Historical - Completed 2009

In the 6th century B.C. China was still a patchwork of feudal kingdoms and states, vying with each other for supremacy. Kong Qiu (Chow Yun-Fat) was born in the kingdom of Lu, where the court ruled in name only and real power had devolved to the three most powerful local clans. Kong Qiu’s reputation

    • Year of production
    • 2009
    • Genres
    • Historical
    • Countries
    • CHINA
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 10 - 25 M$
    • Duration
    • 125 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Mei HU
    • Writer(s)
    • Khan CHAN
    • EIDR
    • 10.5240/B7F1-65B9-59D6-33F9-D3D8-6
    • Producer(s)
    • John SHAM, Pun Hoi YU, Rachel LIU
    • Synopsis
    • China is not yet unified in the “Spring and Autumn Period”. The country-to-be is a patchwork of feudal kingdoms and states, constantly vying with each other for supremacy and territorial advantage. The kingdom of Lu is typical: the nominal ruler has no real authority and actual power has devolved to the three strongest local clans. Impressed by Kong Qiu’s successes as Mayor of Zhongdu, the ruler of Lu invites him into the court as a trusted adviser, and appoints him the court’s Minister of Rituals. Kong Qiu makes his mark immediately by sheltering a runaway slave who refuses to be buried with his late master. But his success earns him the enmity of General Gongshan Niu, the leader of Lu’s army.
      Kong Qiu’s strong belief is that both states and families should be ruled by consent, and not by fear. His own domestic life is a model; he is a benevolent patriarch, dividing his time between work and study of the classics. His major effort is to edit The Book of Songs, a collection of poems from antiquity – a project greatly advanced by his wife’s invention of a permanent ink which cannot be washed away.
      In court, Kong Qiu demonstrates the efficacy of his ethics – and his own tactical brilliance – by regaining Lu’s control over three cities lost in battle to the Qi kingdom three decades earlier. His next step is to bring all three powerful clans back under Lu’s dominion by ordering them to demolish their tall fortress walls, symbols of their arrogant refusal to bow to the state. This, too, appears to be successful when Kong Qiu’s strategies avert a military coup d’etat. But Kong Qiu is outmaneuvered by the ruler of Qi, who bribes the ruler of Lu to demote his minister and send him into exile. Kong Qiu sorrowfully leaves his family and begins a new life as a wandering teacher. He is moved and heartened when a group of his loyal disciples, led by Yan Hui, insists on joining him in his travels.
      They are welcomed in the kingdom of Wei, whose weak ruler hopes to exploit Kong Qiu’s skills as a teacher and military strategist. But the power behind the Wei throne is the ruler’s concubine Nanzi, and her attempt to seduce Kong Qiu persuades him that he and his men should resume their wanderings. They visit the kingdoms of Song and Cheng amongst other territories, and Kong Qiu inexorably grows old.
      Meanwhile, the kingdom of Lu finds itself once again threatened by the neighboring kingdom of Qi. Minister Ji-Sun Si asks his son Ji-Sun Fei to find Kong Qiu and invite him back to help defend his homeland. Embarrassed, Fei suggests first inviting one of Kong Qiu’s disciples, the soldier Ran Qiu. Fei’s man Zigong finds Kong Qiu and his disciples in the kingdom of Chen, about to move on to avoid an invading army from the kingdom of Wu. Yan Hui persuades Kong Qiu to allow Ran Qiu to return to Lu. Ran Qiu promises to send for Kong Qiu once the immediate military problems in Lu are solved.
      Winter sets in, and Kong Qiu and his disciples suffer great hardships as they wander in search of a new home. When the ice on a frozen lake breaks, Yan Hui manages to save Kong Qiu’s vast collection of scrolls from the icy water – but dies in the attempt. In his grief, Kong Qiu is sustained by a vision of his spiritual guide Laozi.
      Ji-Sun Fei finds Kong Qiu and brings a gift from his dying father – a jade ring, symbolizing his unbroken link with his homeland Lu. Kong Qiu agrees to return to Lu, but only as a teacher; he will not involve himself in politics. He is true to his word, and he sees out his days working on his scrolls, editing poems and chronicling history.