A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Demonstrates how essential it is to stand up for the truth, especially when the powers that be are using lies to protect their power. Shows how people working together can actually make a dent in a seemingly invincible opponent. Strong message about telling the truth in day-to-day life.
Positive Role Models
Wang demonstrates remarkable courage, taking risks to stand up for what he believes is right; he and his friends are arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for their activism. The real Wang appears at the end of the movie to deliver a message about what it all means for him today.
The story is set in China, and all of the main characters except one are Chinese; that exception is a White male character who plays a key role and is one of the movie's heroes (but it's not all about him). While one woman character is an activist, in general women feel secondary to men in the movie; they're largely wives or assistants.
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Violence & Scariness
Images of torture and brutal beatings. People are shown being shocked in the electric chair, screaming in pain; one dies, with his dead body shown. Character's hands and legs are bound; she's punched in the stomach. Character burned with hot iron. Characters slammed on ground, kicked during arrests. Drips of blood. Torture devices seen. Violent TV news reports of self-immolation, people on fire, riots, murders, etc. Character has a minor bicycle accident. Other brief, minor, violent dialogue. A woman talks briefly about being stripped naked and forced to spend the night in a man's cell while she was being held prisoner.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman is referred to as a prostitute.
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Infrequent, but includes "f--k," "s--t, "dammit," and "oh God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unsilenced is a fact-based drama, in English and Mandarin, about how, in 1999, the Chinese Communist Party outlawed Falun Gong, a popular meditative exercise that encourages honesty and compassion. Practitioners are shown being arrested and tortured. There are images of brutal beatings, characters being shocked in electric chairs, a woman getting beaten, violent news reports, torture devices, death, and more. Language includes single uses of "f--k," "s--t," "dammit," and "oh God." There's some sex-related dialogue that's more shocking than titillating, and a villain smokes cigarettes. The movie doesn't always work, but its powerful story and positive messages smake it worth seeing for mature viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Hampered by sections of goopy, overly modest filmmaking, this drama is still worth seeking out due to the urgent nature of its true story, which is so powerful that it comes through clearly. Presented in both English and Mandarin (with English subtitles for U.S. release), Unsilenced timidly copies many other tearjerkers and pulse-pounding thrillers to put its pieces together, and not all of it works. A scene of Daniel and Min suddenly shopping for antiques in the middle of everything does eventually have a purpose, but the scene feels out of place. And a Mission: Impossible-type scene in which Wang and Xia pose as plumbers to secretly meet with Daniel is rather silly; playing a recording of banging pipes and sawing noises to cover up the sounds of their talk wouldn't exactly pass muster with Ethan Hunt.
But when Xia is first arrested and punched, hard, in the stomach, it becomes clear that this is serious. The Secretary Yang character really sells it with his movie-villain gestures and his scowl. He meets with informants in the backs of black cars and delivers ultimatums heartlessly. Through him, the movie cuts right through the politics and makes it clear that this is all a flat-out lie, committed by the CCP and designed to protect the power of those in power. It's an urgent and timely revelation, especially for those outside of Beijing who don't know this story. (The movie was filmed in Taiwan for safety purposes.) The real Wang appears at the end of Unsilenced as a way of illustrating how this fight has affected his life. It should never have happened.
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