Overlooking more deserving work (including Zhang Yimou’s “Not One Less,” which made its U.S. premiere with filmmaker in tow at Palm Springs fest), China has chosen the dreadful “Lover’s Grief Over the Yellow River” as its Oscar submission. Second in filmmaker Feng Xiaoning’s “China in the Eyes of Foreigners” trilogy (after “Red River Valley”), pic is intended as an olive branch to American auds, depicting a U.S. Air Force pilot performing heroic acts alongside Chinese troops, allied against the Japanese in WWII. Paradox is that Yanks, long accustomed to classier Sino work, will have none of this crude prop-melodrama, limiting pic to some Asian markets.
Latter certainly won’t include Japan, whose WWII grunts are depicted here as savages from hell. When pilot Owen (American thesp Paul Kersey) crash-lands on a mountaintop and is rescued behind enemy lines by soldiers in the Chinese guerrilla Eighth Route Army, he falls in love with the brave An Jie (Ning Jing) as they battle the bad guys, struggling to cross the Yellow River to safety. Tech work is as sloppy as the thesps are wooden in this embarrassing export bid.