It's nice for a director to take the time to develop the story, IF he/she succeeds. Zhang Yimou here kind of forgot the time I guess. It's just sloooooow telling, resulting in the bad flow of telling it. It's the chapter of dark history (supposedly based on fact) of the Japanese invasion. The one positive aspect out of this movie is to keep the memory of those who so perished in the invasion, reminding those who committed such ugly, inhuman acts will have a day of reckoning, one day.