Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a 2005 Chinese / Japanese drama film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Ken Takakura. It premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival on 22 October 2005 and was released in China on 22 December 2005.
Written by Zou Jingzhi, the film tells the story of Gouichi Takata (Takakura), an aged Japanese father who, ever since his wife died, has not been in good terms with his son. When he learns that his son has been diagnosed as having liver cancer, he decides to travel to the Yunnan province in China in his son's place to film Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, a traditional item in the local nuo opera, in which his son is a leading scholar. He hopes that by doing so, he might finally gain the forgiveness of his son.
The title of the film is an allusion to the fabled story of Guan Yu's perilous solo journey to reunite with his sworn brother and lord Liu Bei, as told in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is a story about brotherly love and loyalty much told in Chinese folklore and operas. The film draws the parallel between the folk tale and Takata's quest to fulfill his son's wish.