Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that The Flowers of War alternates between scenes of intense wartime brutality and sentimental dramatic moments. The savagery inflicted upon the Chinese in 1937 by invading Japanese troops during the historical atrocity known as "The Rape of Nanking" is graphically portrayed. The threat of rape underscores the entire film, and there are fierce fire fights, grisly shots of dismembered bodies, exploding soldiers, point-blank shootings, and multiple violent sexual assaults on both courtesans and innocent schoolgirls. Occasional swearing (including "s--t," "bastards," "ass," "f--k," "whore," and more) is both heard and seen in subtitles. Characters smoke throughout the movie and drink wine and whiskey; the hero (Christian Bale) is introduced as a hard-drinking man who passes out after getting very drunk. One tender love scene takes place between the hero and a courtesan; there's no nudity, but the characters kiss passionately and embrace as they begin to undress.
A major story element is the sexual disparity between convent schoolgirls and young women from a brothel who are forced to hide out together. In contrast to the movie's frequent sexual violence (see "Violence" section), there's some flirtatiousness between two adults and one gentle love scene with kissing and embracing as the couple starts to undress (no actual nudity, but bare backs and shoulders are visible).
Many violent sequences include battle scenes and their bloody aftermath, as well as several graphic sexual assaults. Innocents flee from gunfire, bayonets, and automatic weapons. Both soldiers and civilians are savagely attacked. There are point-blank shootings, piles of bodies (children, adults, soldiers), gruesome injuries, and explosions in slow motion hitting their targets. A dozen young girls are in danger throughout, one of whom falls to her death. Two prostitutes are gang raped and murdered by cackling Japanese soldiers.
Occasional spoken obscenities and swearing (others are translated from Chinese or Japanese in subtitles) includes "s--t," "bastard," "f--k," "ass," "boobs," "hell," "crapper," and "whore."
The movie reminds us that the human spirit can triumph over monstrous evil. Personal redemption is possible even in times of chaos and terror, and unlikely people are capable of feats of honor and sacrifice in spite of past deeds and behavior.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Initially, the film's hero is a chain-smoking, hard-drinking man. He carries a flask, chugs whiskey and wine, gets very drunk, and passes out. The brothel girls drink wine and smoke.