I thought this would have been a more action movie, more pure martial arts and already classic special effects of chinese combat movies.

I started to want to comment about it when I had not yet finished the first half of it.
I now am reaching the end and I very happy with this film.
I cannot understand its underrating!
It is absolutely wonderfully acted, moving, epic.
The characters are so human, you can "fall in love" with them, almost all actors give to their character such a humanity. This is FAR WAY BEYOND any martial art movie I have ever seen in long time.
Actually till now there were not increeeeeedible martial art scenes (not things like Hero, for example), but there were good ones.
Still, it is the movie itself, the way they get me to feel empaty with the human/political fight of those people, which I am liking.
It does not matter at all what happened to China in the rest of the last Century till now, it does not matter at all what China is now.
It matters only that there was a fight of ideals, of students, of people with value, honor, integrity, dignity. People who wanted to change something corrupt for something better. People who wanted to do great things and were willing to sacrifice themselves.
And all this is told in this movie with WAAAAAAAY more humanity and warmth and authenticity and credibility than the 90% of all the Yankee Marines boom boom patriotic films I have ever seen.

And I am NOT Communist.
Nor Chinese.

I just like well made movies.
And this, is IMO a very well made movie.
I cannot understand why people rate it so low.