The film tells the story of Takata (Takakura Ken), an aging Japanese fisherman who has been estranged from his son for many years. His daughter-in-law Rie summons him to the hospital when his son is diagnosed with terminal cancer, but his son refuses to see him. Rie gives him a videotape of his son’s unfinished documentary about the regional Nuo opera of China’s Yunnan province. Takata decides to journey to the Chinese region to shoot the film in his son”s stead. He does so with the hopes of connecting to, and understanding, his son.
The film’s title alludes to a fabled story of Guan Yu’s perilous solo journey to reunite with his sworn brother and lord Liu Bei, as told in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is a story about brotherly love and loyalty celebrated in Chinese folklore and operas. The film draws the parallel between the local folk opera and Takata’s quest to fulfill his son’s wish.
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