Chinese master Jia Zhang-ke makes a bold play for greater accessibility and up-to-the-minute social relevance with his brilliant new film, a Cannes Film Festival prizewinner (for best screenplay) this year.
The film is made up of four interconnected stories. Jiang Wu plays Dahai, a coalminer in Shanxi who discovers his corrupt village chief is in cahoots with a rich mining mogul to swindle the villagers’ money. Chinese comedy star Wang Baoqiang visits his home village near Chongqing to care for his family. Jia’s regular muse (and wife) Zhao Tao plays a martial-arts heroine, a switchblade-wielding receptionist whom local goons unfortunately mistake for a prostitute. Finally, Luo Lanshan and Li Meng are a worker and prostitute in the industrialized south, seeking romance.
Jia has never made anything quite like this, with its references to classic and modern Hong Kong action cinema and its dark vision of a violent society pushed over the edge into frightening bloodshed. Jia sacrifices none of his formal control or his artfulness, though, in this thrillingly shot drama of China today, ripped fresh from the headlines.
Vancouver International Film Festival
‘a stunning slap in the face’
Winner, Best Screenplay, Cannes Film Festival
Winner, Best Foreign Feature Film, Denver Starz Film Festival
Winner, Best Narrative Film, Abu Dhabi Film Festival