Red Corner [1997]

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Using a faulty thriller for his soapbox as an outspoken critic of China, a devout follower of the Dalai Lama, and an influential supporter of Tibetan freedom, Richard Gere resorts to the equivalent of propagandistic drama to deliver a heavy-handed message. In other words, Red Corner relies on a dubious strategy to promote political awareness, but director Jon Avnet appeals to the viewer's outrage with such effective urgency that you're likely to forget you're being shamelessly manipulated. Gere plays a downtrodden TV executive who sells syndicated shows on the global market, and during a business trip to China he finds himself framed for the murder of the sexy daughter of a high Chinese official. Once trapped in a legal system in which his innocence will be all but impossible to prove, Gere must rely on a Chinese-appointed lawyer (played by Bai Ling) who first advises him to plead guilty but gradually grows convinced of foul play. Barely attempting to hide its agenda, Red Corner effectively sets the stage for abundant anti-Chinese sentiment, and to be sure, the movie gains powerful momentum with its tale of justice gone awry. It's a serious-minded, high-intensity courtroom drama with noble intentions ... but did it have to be so conspicuously lacking in subtlety? --Jeff Shannon

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