The Chinese Widow

The Chinese Widow (Chinese: 烽火芳菲), also known as In Harm's Way and The Hidden Soldier, is a 2017 Chinese war drama film directed by Danish director Bille August, starring Liu Yifei and Emile Hirsch.[1][2] The film premiered at the 2017 Shanghai International Film Festival as the opening film and was released on 10 November 2017 in mainland China.[3][4]

The Chinese Widow
The Chinese Widow.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBille August
Written byGreg Latter
Mabel Cheung
Produced byPeng Sun
StarringLiu Yifei
Emile Hirsch
CinematographyFilip Zumbrunn
Edited byGerd Tjur
Music byAnnette Focks
Zhejiang Roc Pictures
Release dates
  • 19 June 2017 (2017-06-19) (SIFF)
  • 10 November 2017 (2017-11-10)
Running time
97 mins


Jack is an American Air Force pilot with a mission to carry out the first US bombing run on Tokyo. After the mission is successful, his plane gets detached from the rest of the squadron due to bad weather. With low fuel, he is forced to go to China's Zhejiang Province. Due to malfunctioning autopilot, he is forced to fly the plane manually while his crew parachutes out and he jumps out in the last moment before the plane crashes.

The next day, his unconscious body is discovered by a local widow named Ying, who lives with her daughter Nunu weaving silk. She hides him in a nearby cave with the help of her childhood friend and village head Kai. Soon after, the Imperial Japanese Army (who already have captured and executed the rest of Jack's crew) come in search of Jack and capture the village, holding Kai at gunpoint to tell where the pilot is hiding. Kai refuses to do so and is executed. Nunu insists Ying to tell what she knows to her grandparents but Ying does not, remembering Kai's advice not to tell it to anyone. The next day, she goes to the cave with some food and seeing Jack conscious, leaves it there and returns promptly before he can confront her.

The Japanese army sends search patrols in the jungle and Ying is forced to bring Jack into her house. Although distant at first, Jack quickly befriends Nunu by whistling Yankee Doodle to her. Jack is able to convey to Ying that he has to go to Chongqing where the US Army base is. She hides him in the basement, while she tries to find a way to contact the Chinese guerrillas to get him a safe passage. One day, while Nunu is in her school, the IJA Captain Shimamoto comes into Ying's house and attempts to rape her, only to be shot in the head by Jack. They hide the body in the basement and as Jack consoles Ying, they form an intimate bond.

In school, Nunu accidentally whistles Yankee Doodle which is noticed by her teacher. The teacher then rushes to Ying's house with Nunu and on confronting Jack, reveals that he is with the Chinese guerrillas. When Jack shows him the Captain's body, he tells Ying and Nunu to escape along with Jack, as the IJA will execute them once they find out. While they make their escape, the IJA find the body and pursue the group after torching the village. The Japanese eventually catch up and fire on them, and the teacher stays behind with a few guerrillas to slow them down, and is killed. With the group only a few metres away from the escape boat, Ying is shot in the chest by a sniper. Devastated, Jack kills the sniper and barely escapes with Nunu and the remaining guerrillas.

In Chongqing, he reports to General Jimmy Doolittle, also expressing his wish to adopt Nunu. The General rejects it by saying that Jack cannot be a soldier and her father at the same time. Instead, Nunu will be given to a Chinese family living in Los Angeles. Jack reluctantly accepts and bids Nunu a tearful goodbye. 50 years later, an elderly Jack writes a letter to a grown-up Nunu saying that he was truly in love with her mother and despite missing her everyday, he has come to peace with himself. The address on the envelope in which Jack inserts the letter indicates Nunu is at a San Diego, California address.


  • Liu Yifei as Ying
  • Emile Hirsch as Jack
  • Li Fangcong as Nunu
  • Yan Yikuan as Kai
  • Yu Shaoqun as teacher
  • Tsukagoshi Hirotaka as Captain Shimamoto
  • Vincent Riotta as Jimmy Doolittle
  • Gong Hanlin as Ying's father-in-law
  • Jin Zhu as Ying's mother-in-law
  • Gallen Lo as Captain Xu
  • Gong Tiankuo as Lieutenant Sun
  • Shu Yaoxuan as hawker
  • Vivian Wu as elderly Nunu (the character did not appear in the final cut of the film but was credited with a special acknowledgment).


The film was released in China (10 November 2017), the United States (2 November 2018) and France (14 November 2018). In France, the film was released with an alternative English-language title: The Lost Soldier.[5]

Awards and nominationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Liu Yifei stars in The Chinese Widow for Zhejiang Roc Pictures". Blake Friedmann. 17 November 2015.
  2. ^ "War epic 'The Chinese Widow' announced". Shanghai Daily. 19 June 2017.
  3. ^ "'The Chinese Widow' to replace 'Our Time Will Come' as Shanghai Film Festival opener". Screen Daily.
  4. ^ "Shanghai Festival: Danish Auteur Bille August's 'The Chinese Widow' to Premiere in Competition". The Hollywood Reporter. 8 June 2017.
  5. ^ The Lost Soldier

External linksEdit