In The Heat of The Sun, directed by Jiang Wen, China 1994

Ma Xiaojun (Monkey)

born and raised in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), son of a People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer and a military wife constantly absent on various "revolutionary duties"; grows up without proper mentors and uninitiated, finds acceptance and friendship in teen peers living in the same residential compound for the PLA officers; goes through rites of passage by way of street fights, burglary, vandalism, teen sex, smoking, and other acts of self-destruction; a pathological liar and desperately seeking self-validation for his adolescent existence

Ma Wenzhong

Monkey's father, a PLA soldier with awards for bravery during the Korean War (1951-3) in which he was responsible for defusing unexploded American bombs; often away from home for military missions; married to Monkey's mother against the advice of his superior officers


a high school teacher, finds the life of a military wife unfulfilling; suspects husband a coward during the Korean War hiding in a mountain cave; depressed by second unwanted pregnancy and later by her father's suicide when accused of being a landlord and a Nationalist Army officer

Mi Lan

grows up in the same military compound, works on a state owned farm in the suburb of Beijing; enjoys the attention of teenage boys and unable to give undivided affection to Monkey; introduced to the neighborhood gang through her association with Monkey who is younger than her

Liu Yiku

Monkey's buddy and pal; son of the director of a military marching band; vie with Monkey for popularity among teen gang members, and his rival for the affection of Mi Lan

Yu Beipei

girl from the same neighborhood, of the same age as Mi Lan, and works on the same farm as she; a "tom boy" who uses foul language as the boys, watches them shower and helps them recruit female gang members

Gu Lunmu

(the name literally means "ancient wheel wood"); a mentally challenged teen also from the military compound; remains unchanged as the rest of the boys in the military compound outgrow their their childhood follies and become adult by taking other preoccupations