The story gives us photographer Lee Berger (Alessandro Nivola, who played Pollux Troy in Face/Off) as the man who took the defining picture of the Chinese man who, while carrying two bags of shopping, stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. If there was ever a man who was a hero, he is that man. However, I understand he was quickly hurried away and never seen again. Word is, others also carried out such an action but he was the only one captured on film.
Berger almost had his photos taken, but some quick thinking ensured they weren’t discovered when the army burst into his room and took what they could.
Fast-forward to Syria, 2016, and he’s taking pictures again when a bomb kills man people without discrimination. Amongst the devastation again, he has to take more snaps, which end up including one of a woman with her child, just as a soldier came up to deliver a fatal shot.
A chance comes up to go back to China to report on a story about Trump, and he’ll be attending with fellow journalist Mel Kincaid (Cherry Jones – perhaps best known as America’s first female President… in ‘24‘), whilst meeting up with old friend Zhang Lin (Terry Chen), whose wife Liuli (Katie Leung) died in the protests, and who appears in flashbacks.
At one point, it’s suggested that ‘Tank Man’s real name was Wang Pengfei, and that he was one of many people who moved to America later in 1989. Or did he? That’s what Lee wants to find out.
However one thing Lee didn’t want to come out is…
I found this an enjoyable hour of drama, but at the same time, it only really just introduced the characters to it. The foundations were laid for something more, and I just wish I didn’t have to wait another week for it, since… (another spoiler)
For some reason, this programme was not available for review, which is a shame as there’s a great deal to take in. However, as this is just one episode of four, I wish all four episodes had been available to watch in one go, or at least, stripped across the week from Monday to Thursday.
I like how they use a brief news piece showing Donald Trump saying he likes the form of politics, but doesn’t think he’ll ever be involved himself… Say what you like about Trump… he won’t hear you.
UPDATE Episode 2: Once again, Liuli was in his fridge, and meanwhile there was a possible new romance for Zhang Lin in Joy, but then she disappeared. Woooooooo!
Again, Lee and Mel are on the trail of Tank Man, but he did a bunk as well, before the end came and Lee had a call from a Tom Wenlei, claiming he can get Tank Man to call him.. so that’ll be episode 3, no doubt.
Overall, I’m enjoying this, but it does feel a little slow at times.
UPDATE: Episodes 3 and 4 (25.4.19): I’ve now seen both of these (and you can, too, on All 4, prior to them showing up on Channel 4, and then on DVD from May 20th), and all I’ll say is that in addition to some more scenes with snotty politician Maria Dubecki, there are some unexpected twists and turns along the way in many different quarters.
Episode 1 Score: 8/10
Episode 2 Score: 7.5/10
Episode 3 Score: 8/10
Episode 4 Score: 8/10
Director: Michael Keillor
Producer: Adrian Sturges
Writer: Lucy Kirkwood
Lee Berger: Alessandro Nivola
Mel Kincaid: Cherry Jones
Zhang Lin: Terry Chen
Tessa Kendrick: Sophie Okonedo
Frank Sams: F Murray Abraham
Liuli: Katie Leung
Young Lee Berger: Ty Simpkins
Prisoner: Lee Byford
Journalist: Hiten Patel
Joy: Naomi Yang
Young Zhang Lin: Jay Yu
Zhao: Jason Wong
Shen: Vera Chok
David Barker: Ladi Emeruwa
Liz: Jane Perry
Ming Xiao Li: Kheng Hua Tan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.