The Chinese Studies Program in the department of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at UNCG, has been hosting movies in the Bryan Building since Oct. 13, as a project intended to reflect contemporary Chinese society.
This past Friday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the film “Lost on Journey,” which included English subtitles for those who required them, was presented in room 104 of the Bryan Building. The movie was selected from a cannon of “critically acclaimed winners of national and International film festivals,” as described in UNCG event calendar.
On the film’s flier, “Lost on Journey,” is described as “a 2010 comedy,” which “depicts an amusing yet realistic portrayal of the issues prevalent in the Chinese society, especially during the chaotic Chunyun when everyone wants to reunite with their family for the Chinese New Year celebrations.”
The film’s two main characters, Niu Geng and Li Cheng-gong, who are both attempting to get back to Changsha during an incredibly hectic time of the year, complete this comical and bizarre journey working side by side.
Geng, a milk extraction technician, is portrayed throughout film as the frustrating side kick to Cheng-gong, who is a successful businessman. “Lost on Journey” feels incredibly reminiscent of the 1987 American film, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” where characters Neal Page and Del Griffith fall into a ridiculous series of events trying to get home for Thanksgiving. However, “Lost on Journey” is unique in its emphasis on Chinese culture throughout the film.
According to UNCG’s event calendar, all movies selected for this series, “can enable students to explore Chinese culture, history and society across a broad range of disciplines, as well as promote the international cultural exchange of the UNCG community.”
“Lost on Journey” begins by presenting Geng and Cheng-gong, in their different environments, which enables the viewer to get a sense of the nature of the two characters before they become inseparable for the rest of the trip to Changsha.
Geng is presented aggravating a long line of travelers as he is attempting to get a gallon of milk through airport security. When asked to throw it away, he instead decides to drink the entire thing right on the spot. Then, across town, the scene switches to an elite office building where Cheng-gong is depicted yelling and criticizing his employees for poor performance.
The men eventually meet up and form a bond throughout the remainder of the movie. Although the more cold-hearted Cheng-gong regards the light-hearted Geng as a nuisance for much of the film, saying, “I think heaven sent you to punish me,” the pair grow unexpectedly close by the end of the movie.
Some of the ridiculous events that transpire in the movie, include a scene in which Geng falls asleep driving his friend’s van and the car flips. Later in the scene, after Geng and his friends hurriedly pull each other from the crash, they run and commit the classic “action film jump,” that usually happens right before an explosion in movies, except, their is no explosion afterwards. This was one of many moments that elicited laughter from the audience over the course of the film.
Of the movie’s humor, UNCG Junior, Gabrielle Handy, said, “I really liked it, it was really funny and it went beyond my expectations. It showed me that no matter what the language is, comedy can make its way through.”
And Handy was right, as “Lost on Journey” continued to weave more serious and touching moments into witty dialogue and comically fantastical events that effectively engaged the audience.
One humorous scene featured the two men sitting on the back of a truck with chickens covered in feathers, as Cheng-gong desperately tried to get away from his undesired travel companion. By the end of the film, the two succeed in bringing out the best in each other, leaving viewers with the message of kindness and redemption.
Despite all of the frustration and struggles, Cheng-gong tells Geng at the end of the film, “You are lucky, I hope you are always happy.”
For the time being, “Lost on Journey” will be the final film shown in this series sponsored by the Chinese Studies Program, LLC. However, through the remainder of the semester, similar events can be found at the Office of Intercultural Engagement section of UNCG’s website.