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Ginko’s younger brother Tetsuro, a failed comedian, is the oddball of the family. Embarrassing, loud and plain inappropriate at times causes Ginko to disown him. The two reunite when she discovers Tetsuro is terminally ill. Tetsuro’s impending death marks the beginning of love and toleration.
British sad sack Gary is a failed entrepreneur who has just arrived in Beijing’s stylish Sanlitun district, allegedly to start a business. There are other reasons why he has uprooted himself — he’s followed his ex-wife and young son, for one — but he soon finds out that China isn’t the easiest place to succeed. Blissfully untouched by self-awareness, and only fitfully in tune with reality, Gary sallies forth to make money, armed with faith in himself and little to no knowledge of Chinese culture. He soon hooks up with Frank, a trust-fund kid from Australia who offers to mentor Gary in Eastern ways, although Frank’s pedagogical method is restricted to yelling at Gary for being a Westerner and not being as “Chinese” as him.
Shirley has left the big city to live in a small seaside town and look after her elderly grandmother. She drives a tractor on a local coconut plantation, loves rock music and wants to be a tattoo artist. She feels trapped in the tiny coastal village. She is involved with Jeison, who also works on the coconut farm and who free dives for lobster and octopus in his spare time.
When reporter Jean Craddock interviews Bad Blake — an alcoholic, seen-better-days country music legend — they connect, and the hard-living crooner sees a possible saving grace in a life with Jean and her young son. But can he leave behind an existence playing in the shadow of Tommy, the upstart kid he once mentored?
Fourth-generation Army Col. William McNamara is imprisoned in a brutal German POW camp. Still, as the senior-ranking American officer, he commands his fellow inmates, keeping a sense of honor alive in a place where honor is easy to destroy, all under the dangerous eye of the Luftwafe vetran Col. Wilhelm Visser. Never giving up the fight to win the war, McNamara is silently planning, waiting for his moment to strike back at the enemy. A murder in the camp gives him the chance to set a risky plan in motion. With a court martial to keep Visser and the Germans distracted, McNamara orchestrates a cunning scheme to escape and destroy a nearby munitions plant, enlisting the unwitting help of young Lt. Tommy Hart. Together with his men, McNamara uses a hero’s resolve to carry out his mission, ultimately forced to weigh the value of his life against the good of his country.
Jake Huard, from a shipbuilders family, promised his dying mother he’ld make it to Anapolis Naval Academy. Thanks to tenaciously bugging a Congressman, he’s selected despite dubious grades. Once inside, Jake soon proves sub-standard academically. Constantly challenged to his limits, repeatedly made the ‘over-cocky’ reason for the entire class to suffer, Jake nearly quits, but after facing his utterly un-supportive father’s gloating returns just in time. Stubborn Jake finds support withs mates as well as Senor Ali, his lover-to-be, and a discipline he may excel in: the ‘brigade’ boxing tournament, open to all ranks.