Us and Them 2018 – Not Your Usual Chinese Romantic Drama

Us and Them Review (2018)

Learn Chinese with this touching romantic drama Us and Them 2018. Have you tissues at the ready though, it’s a bit of a tearjerker!

Us and Them – Introduction

Us and Them – Main Characters

Us and Them – Why it’s Great for Chinese Learners

Us and Them – Useful Vocab

Us and Them – Where You Can Watch

Ok, let’s get started with our Us and Them review…

Us and Them 2018 – Introduction

Us and Them 2018 is a Chinese romantic drama, however, this isn’t your typical cheesy, cutesy romantic Chinese film.

Instead, the film is very bittersweet and deals with the harsh realities faced by young rural Chinese workers trying to make it in Beijing.


The Chinese title of Us and Them is 后来的我们 (hòulái de wǒmen) which literally means “Us Afterwards”. The film is directed by Taiwanese singer-actress Rene Liu (刘若英 liú ruòyīng) and is her directorial debut.

The film follows the lives of Lin Jianqing (林见清 lín jiànqīng) and Fang Xiaoxiao (方小晓 fāng xiǎoxiǎo) who are from the same hometown and both trying to find success in Beijing.

They meet each other by chance on a train when they are both travelling back to their hometowns for Chinese New Year and quickly become friends.

Their friendship ends up blossoming into something more, but will their story have a happy ending?

The story of their relationship is told while flipping between the past and present, with the present scenes being shown in black and white and past scenes in colour.

What emerges is a very touching film about the struggles of Jianqing and Xiaoxiao as they navigate through life in China in the late 2000s.

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Ode to Joy Chinese Drama 💁‍♀️ A Review for Chinese Learners

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Us and Them 2018 – Main Characters

Us and Them 2018 really only focuses on the lives of Jianqing and Xiaoxiao, however, Jianqing’s father also features in the film.

Us and Them Review

Lin Jianqing (林见清 lín jiànqīng) – A university graduate from a small rural hometown who has dreams of becoming a computer game maker. However, living in Beijing he finds it hard to get the time and money to achieve his goal.

Jianqing is played by Jing Boran (井柏然 jǐng bórán) a Chinese actor and singer. Jing Boran achieved popularity from winning the 2007 talent contest My Hero.

He has gone on to star in multiple films and TV shows and even made a short cameo in the star-studded film Face of My Gene.

Us and Them Review

Fang Xiaoxiao (方小晓 fāng xiǎoxiǎo) – She is from the same rural hometown as Jianqing and moves to Beijing in the hopes of marrying a Beijing native and obtaining the much sought-after Beijing Hukou (户口 hùkǒu). Despite this, she is still hard working and struggles alongside Jianqing to help him realise his dreams.

If you didn’t know a Hukou is a system of household registration used in mainland China. To get a Beijing Hukou or Shanghai Hukou is very difficult, especially if you weren’t born there.

Xiaoxiao is played by Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨 zhōu dōngyǔ) a Chinese actress made famous by her debut role in Zhang Yimou’s 2010 film Under the Hawthorne Tree.

Us and Them 2018 – Why it’s Great For Chinese Learners

As always watching a Chinese film or TV show is great for Chinese learners because it’s a really easy and enjoyable way for you to practice your Chinese.

Us and Them Review 2018

Aside from a little bit of computer jargon occasionally, the language used in Us and Them 2018 isn’t too complicated and should be no problem for more intermediate and advanced learners to understand without English subtitles.

For beginner and elementary students it’s still a great opportunity to practice your listening and character recognition.

You can also learn about the socioeconomic problems faced by many workers, especially those from rural backgrounds, living in Beijing. The film offers some powerful insights into the challenges faced by young people in modern Beijing.

Us and Them 2018 focuses on areas of Chinese lives that are often overlooked in many mainstream Chinese films, and TV shows. This makes it a really good way to gain more knowledge about modern Chinese society and some of the problems that exist.

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Us and Them 2018 – Useful Vocab

First we have some vocab related to computers and computer games as this is a main theme in the film:

  • 重装 zhòng zhuāng – Re-install
  • 硬盘 yìngpán – Hard drive
  • 系统 xìtǒng – System
  • 游戏 yóuxì – Game
  • 网游 wǎngyóu – Online games
  • 魔兽世界 móshòu shìjiè – World of Warcraft
  • 电玩展 diànwán zhǎn – Video game conference
  • dié – Video disk

Now is some more general vocab which you may not have come across before:

  • 补票 bǔpiào – Buy a late ticket, e.g. after boarding the train
  • 罚款 fákuǎn – Fine, penalty
  • 深感歉 shēn gǎn qiàn – Deepest apologies
  • 二锅头 èrguōtóu – A brand of baijiu (Chinese spirit)
  • 商务舱 shāngwù cāng – Business class
  • 非礼 fēilǐ – Assault or violate a woman
  • 博士 bóshì – Doctor (PhD)
  • 地震局 dìzhènjú – Earthquake bureau

Idiom alert:
衣锦还乡 yījǐnhuánxiāng – To return in glory (lit. go back to one’s home town in silken robes)

Us and Them Review
  • 打折 dǎzhé – Dicount
  • 嫉妒 jídù – Be jealous
  • 看上 kàn shàng – To fall in love with
  • 神经病 shénjīngbìng – Crazy
  • 有病 yǒu bìng – Be crazy
  • 自私 zìsī – Selfish
  • 避孕 bìyùn – Contraception
  • 比弗利山 bǐ fú lì shān – Beverly Hills
  • mà – Swear
  • 小三 xiǎosān – Mistress, the other woman
  • 异乡人 yìxiāng rén – Stranger
  • 善意的谎言 shànyì de huǎngyán – White lie (lit. good intentions lie)

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Us and Them 2018 – Where to Watch

Us and Them 2018 is available to watch on Netflix. When the film premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival Netflix actually bought exclusive distribution rights to the film for everywhere outside of China.

If you’ve read any of our other blogs about watching Chinese TV shows or films, then you’ll probably be aware of the amazing Google Chrome extension Learning Language with Netflix.

This great add on allows you to watch Netflix with dual subtitles, so that you can have both Chinese subtitles and your native language displaying. You can also even see the pinyin for the Chinese which is super helpful.

You can hide the translations if you want a bit of a challenge, but can get specific parts to display by simply hovering your mouse over the subtitle if needed.

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Want us to review your favourite Chinese movies? Let us know which one in the comments below.

Us and Them Review (2018) – FAQ’s

Where can I watch Us and Them?

You can watch Us and Them 2018 on Netflix.

What is the Chinese name of Us and Them?

The Chinese title of Us and Them is 后来的我们 (hòulái de wǒmen) which literally means “Us Afterwards”.

Who directed Us and Them?

Us and Them 2018 is directed by Taiwanese singer-actress Rene Liu (刘若英 liú ruòyīng).

When was Us and Them released?

Us and Them was released in 2018.

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