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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

To Belong or Not To Belong

I Belonged to You (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

As the movie opens it's raining to beat the dickens, pedestrians scurrying to and fro. City Radio talk show host of “Passing Through Your World” Chen Mo (Chao Deng)—in China surnames come first—advises and comforts callers on their problems. A female caller complains of being lonely on her birthday. He tells her she shouldn't be; millions of people the world over share the same birthday with her. She is not alone. His female co-host (Baihe Bai?) at the end of the show calls it quits (“We're breaking up.”) He helps all kinds of people with their problems, but he him­self has trouble moving on.

After two years of falling ratings, nobody will co-host with him … except one fresh intern Yao Ji (Tianai Zhang) volunteers (“I'm Birdie.”) For all her self-efface­ment of the “smallest tile in a mah–jongg set”, she manages to “erupt with unexpected elegance” when he gets in a bind.

His best friend “Chubby” Zhu Tou (Yu Yunpeng) after yearning greatly for the prettiest girl in his college class Li Zhi, seizes an opportunity to help her finish and graduate, earning her appreciation if not out­right obligation.

Female beat cop Yan Zi (Liu Yan) spends her days chasing petty miscreants down the street and dreaming of promotion until one day by mistake she chases a nerd Mao Shiba (Yang Yang) whose only contra­band was used electronic junk he collected to recycle. In his nerdy way he was afraid and ran on account of her being so pretty. Having similar minimal relation­ship experience, they hook up with each other. He loves her extravagantly (“Such devotion to Yan Zi”) with home­made gizmos and gadgets, which may sound corny, but he really puts him­self into it.

Add some financial troubles at the station, a stern female program director Xiao Rong (Dun Juan), an offbeat contest, and a fading dear mother Madame Liu, and we've got the makings of a fine drama.


The rainstorm was the appropriate opening. I was listening on the radio to a blues singer croon about how “The love in my heart has gone dry/ And it doesn't look like rain in the sky.” Later a country singer laments, “You don't miss the water till the well runs dry.” They're talking about love when they sing about water. This movie is about love, and water makes a good idiom similar to the heat used in the movie, “Morocco.”

As a meteorological analogy a possibility of selecting one partner or another could be represented in scripture by, (Eccl. 11:3) “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty them­selves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” The rain drenches the earth and the tree roots can no longer support the trunk that then falls in one direction or the other. (Saturation and inertia were discussed in another context in my review of “Sully”.)

We have in this movie three couples who will end up, when the credits roll, in a relation­ship either in the past, present or future. The challenge is to figure out which will be which, and thanks to some clever writing it may not be the ones you expect. The Chinese title verb is ambiguous with respect to tense. The setting: City Radio talk show of “Passing Through Your World” could refer to a Christian passing through this world whose heart is captured by an attractive member of the opposite sex who's not necessarily a believer. What are his options, past, present and future?

1 Corinthians 7Paul answered the Corinthians about it in his first letter to them, concerning their query on mixed marriages, (1Cor. 7:12-15) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. … And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. … But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” For those Christians currently in (matrimonial) relation­ship with an unbeliever, it is the Christian's part to remain so, subject to the acceptance of the other partner. In this movie one partner gets a surprise proposal in front of a make­shift church (“This is a church, a fake one.”) Another couple is composed of one thieving partner and one generous one. They can represent mixed couples, but with minimal religious reference. Paul earlier in his first Corinthian epistle wrote, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, … or things present, or things to come; all are your's.” That would expand the rule of current mixed relations , i.e “the world, things present,” to relation­ships to come, i.e “the world, things to come.”

According to my Criswell Study Bible, “Second Corinthians was written some six months later.” The movie has gaps designating two years and approx. one year, in which things change. In six months in Corinth some things may begin to change, also, but one thing won't. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul says he's, (2Cor. 4:2) “... not handling the word of God deceit­fully.” An example of deceit can be found when, (Gen. 34:13) “the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” They told them they were allowed to inter­marry but used it as a ruse to gain an advantage, because actually they weren't amenable to it. Paul wasn't being deceitful, so after he tells the Corinthians a mixed marriage is permissible, he's not going to tell them six months later it isn't. Paul does, though, ask them the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have a ready example of such partitioning of believers taking part in marriages with unbelievers: the ones they asked Paul about earlier, now minus the couples where the unbelieving spouse either converted or departed, plus any new mixed marriages that occurred in the six month interim per Paul's allowance. Since presumably the unbelieving spouse was not attending worship with the believer—but they would have done other, worldly things together—the observant Corinthians might conclude they shouldn't mix unbeliever practices into their worship modes. They're not really compatible as Paul here concludes: (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” In this movie we have not only "couples" but also a business partner­ship in which one partner slighted the other, talk show partners (“I'm Chen Mo, paired up with the most talented intern”), partner­ships with various stations in other cities, which carry the talk show, and a blue partner­ship of police­men coming quickly to each other's aid. We can differentiate between the partner­ships well enough here. Can we not differentiate in the Bible between partner­ships in worship—where Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked”—and partner­ships in marriage where Paul does allow for “things to come”?

Production Values

“I Belonged to You” (2016) was directed by Yibai Zhang—putting surname last, western style. Its screen­play was written by Jiajia Zhang who appears momentarily towards the end of the credits. It stars Chao Deng and Crystal Zhang. The acting is not Oscar material, to be sure, but it was done well done enough for an enjoyable viewing experience. Some few scenes put the strain on suspension of disbelief from a western culture stand­point, but we were able to pass on them due to the pleasure of the plot. The male leads (nerd, slob, and fatso) are made to look different enough for a western eye to tell them apart, and one of the women is always dressed in a fetching uniform.

“I Belong” has all the earmarks of a Chinese drama film. The tears on their occasion are copious, and the declarations of love effusive. It's a triple romance with no mushy stuff. One couple goes so far as to discuss intimacy in a relation­ship, but only indirectly. The callers, on the other hand, are shockingly direct. The film itself is rated PG in Canada (British Columbia) & Singapore. Since Chinese is a simpler language than English, the subtitles lag the faster speech. The scenery captured on film is at times breath­taking. There's some brief but decisive martial arts thrown in from a surprising quarter. The music is a worthy addition to the film. Some rotating crane shots are superb.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I'm a Chinese film aficionado to the point of having taken a couple years of Mandarin Chinese so I can under­stand the movies better. I just love this stuff. I'll add this one to the great Chinese films I've seen. Catch it while you can.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.