Peking Soap Opera

Gere can't help prodding viewers to recall his off-camera protests against Chinese rule of Tibet. (This movie seems to have Tibet in it, even if it doesn't.) Unfortunately, as an actor, he's worse than self-contained -- he's vacuum-packed. His peaks of fervor are like imitation tantrums. And Yuelin and Moore's bouts of mutual self-sacrifice verge on the middlebrow camp of Contact. We discover that Yuelin must "speak up" the way she didn't when she saw her father shamed in the Cultural Revolution. And Moore must commit to another person the way he hasn't since his wife and daughter died in a crushed San Francisco taxi. If Ling's character can at least claim historical authority, Gere's is the stuff of Peking soap opera. The bombast and histrionics of Red Corner treat the melting of a big star's heart as the equivalent of the thawing of a nation.

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