"Why I'm the only white man she's met out here."

Ouch. From the opening scenes in China, the dialog is horrible. Someone was feeding lines into the poor actors' mouths, and must have asked a bunch of eight year old kids how a Chinese person would talk. Not all the lines are bad, some are even fairly reasonable, but it's a fair stretch of the imagination that English would be both spoken so well, but formed so poorly at the same time.

Doctor Gray Thompson returns to this Chinese village, along with his new wife, Louise, which is news to fellow doctor Sara Durand, whose initial reaction is one of hidden jealousy. The film is clearly on Sara's side. Despite some intimations of intelligence given to Louise, she is immediately portrayed as manipulative and self-involved.

All this is against the backdrop of continual Japanese bombings and intrigue involving a wounded Japanese officer and Korean Doctor Kim. The film successfully raises the stakes into a full wartime incident, and while it plays out onscreen well enough, I feel like there is a serious misstep in the plot here, in that we go too far from where we start from. The melodrama around the characters is far surpassed by the events we see.

And when I say melodrama, that's really what we see. We are left with a too-tidy ending, that at the same time, really doesn't leave us any different than the very start of the film. And further, it's not quite believable. Dr. Thompson's reactions to what happens is not so much unbelievable as not actually addressed. Isn't that what the story is supposed to be about? We could have at least resolved these relationships with a few spare moments of letting his emotions hang out.

This could have been a good movie - expand the scope of the film at the beginning in a way that anticipates the ending, then fix the ending to focus on the central conflict. As is, though, this one feels like it was pushed off the assembly line without enough thought.

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