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Happy Times from Fox

Fox Home Entertainment have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release for Zhang Yimou's Happy Times that will be available to buy from June 16th 2003 at the retail price of £19.99. Typically for a foreign movie distributed via Fox extras are quite literally non-existent though we do at least get a 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with the original Mandarin DD5.1 Audio track (and optional English subtitles).

Here is a look at the DVD artwork and the text from the press release...



Zhao (Benshan Zhao) is an ageing, unemployed bachelor who is desperate to get married, but has so far failed to meet the woman of his dreams. When he ends up on a date with an overweight divorcee (Qibin Leng) he proposes instantly, wanting a large lady ‘to keep him warm’, and she agrees, thinking he is the rich owner of a large hotel.

Needing 50,000 yuan to pay for the wedding, Zhao turns to his best friend Fu, who comes up with an idea to get hold of the money. The two men refurbish a derelict bus, name it the ‘Happy Times Hut’ and rent it out by the hour to young couples who are in need of privacy! The plan goes awry, however, when the council take the bus away during a clean-up of the area.

Meanwhile, Zhao’s intended introduces him to the son she dotes on and the blind step-daughter she despises Wu Ying (Jie Dong). Despite her pretences in front of Zhao, she mistreats Wu Ying, forcing her to do all the chores and making it clear she is considered an inconvenience. Zhao reluctantly agrees to give Wu Ying a job at his ‘hotel’ after pressure from his fiancée who wants her out of the flat.

Hoping that Wu Ying’s blindness will fool both her and her step-mother, Zhao sets up a fake massage parlour in an abandoned warehouse for her to work in. Enlisting the help of his retired friends to pose as customers, he often gives them his own money to use as tips. Despite the fact that their relationship is based on deceit, a genuine bond develops between Zhao and Wu Ying, who appreciates the efforts her new father-figure has gone to in order to find her a job. Wu Ying is desperate to save up enough money to find her real father, who has promised to return one day and help her find a cure for her loss of sight. However, Zhao is fast running out of money to pay her, and Wu Ying may not be as naïve as he believes about the reality of her situation…

This tender and poignant comedy represents a change of direction for Chinese director Yimou Zhang (Raise The Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad), who previously directed tales of passion starring his former muse Gong Li. With endearing performances from both comedian Benshan Zhao and newcomer Jie Dong, HAPPY TIMES won several awards at the Valladolid International Film Festival in 2002, including Best Actress and the Silver Spike.

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