The Chinese director Feng Xiaogang is not quite the Asian Steven Spielberg, but like the American director, he’s achieved blockbuster successes in a variety of genres. His 2006 film, “Legend of the Black Scorpion,” was a sumptuous, “Hamlet”-derived, martial arts period piece. “If You Are the One” from 2008 was a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of entrepreneurial wealth. And last year’s “I Am Not Madame Bovary” was a not-quite-successful formal experiment in adapting a best-selling novel.
His new film, “Youth,” based on a Yan Geling novel, is about a People’s Liberation Army dance troupe in the early 1970s. Western viewers will detect resonances of “Stage Door” and “The Way We Were” in the story, which largely focuses on the disdainful treatment received by the newcomer He Xiaoping (Miao Miao), a girl from a poor background who’s been recruited by the heroic, idealistic Liu Feng (Huang Xuan). During the Sino-Vietnamese war, the entertainers are forced to become warriors and medics.