Reviews & Previews - Please Vote for Me

Posted on Friday, June 25, 2010 at 06:00 PM

Please Vote for Me

By: S. Tran

Starring: Cheng Cheng, Xiao Fei, Luo Lei
Directed by: Weijun Chen
Running time: 58 minutes
Rated: G

Do You Want to Be Beaten?

That was one of the big questions in this great documentary out of China that I finally got around to watching recently. Please Vote for Me is like finding $20 in your winter coat, a nice little surprise that makes your day a little bit better. The film's examination of an elementary school election in the city of Wuhan is funny, charming and enlightening.

Director Weijun Chen turned his cameras on a third grade classroom that was, for the first time, holding an election to let the students vote for the class monitor, who is supposed to be the teacher's helper. Although to my eyes the position seemed to be more like official bully, pushing students in and out of line for minor infractions with little supervision from the teacher. The election was supposed to teach the children about democracy but of course this is still China so the kids were only allowed to choose from three candidates already chosen by the teacher.

Cheng Cheng is the chubby politician, who took easily to the dark side of politics, trading power for votes and stirring up crowds. He also proved himself a great debater. The fact that he spent most of his time only in his underwear while at home only added to his mystique as the power broker.

Xiao Fei is the shy girl, disadvantaged by the fact that she lives with her mother who is divorced. We know this because when the mother is introduced to graphic under her image told us her name and had the word "Divorced" right next to it. I'm not sure whether this was supposed to be a simple fact or whether it was meant to convey something more. Xiao Fei is woefully unprepared for dirty politics and cries when accused of being a slow eater which I guess is some sort of character flaw in China.

Luo Lei is the incumbent in the race. He has been class monitor for two years and seems to enjoy the power it gives him. The question "Do you want to be beaten?" is directed to the class by Cheng Cheng who promises fewer beatings if the children vote for him. Luo Lei won't give up without a fight though and with a dad who is the police chief he offers "gifts" to the class during the election like monorail rides.

The movie does a great job of following the kids around as the election progresses. At first none of the children really understand what an election means, but with the help of their parents they soon begin to realize that they will have to get dirty in order to win. The interactions between the children is hilarious to watch as they try and win votes from their classmates, but the footage with the parents is equally interesting.

All of the parents want the children to do well and we see them introducing the more unsavoury aspects of politics to their children. Character assassination, bribery and insults, just like real politics. One great scene has Luo Lei's dad giving him a thumbs up from the hallway after Luo lei has loudly called his opponent a liar, just like dad taught him to.

Throughout it all the teacher does not seem to provide many rules or instructions to the children. It's as if the whole thing is new to her as well.

This is a very entertaining movie that will have you laughing and leave you thinking after the credits role. The children are amazing in their own way and the process of democracy in small classroom in China is eerily similar to what we are used to seeing here in North America. Rent it.

4 stars out of 5.

S. Tran also writes at, and


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to