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This is not a detailed review, and I am not going to speak to the cultural differences between American story-telling and the various differences which can be found in foreign films generally.
This movie has some very Chinese cultural approaches which I appreciate for their differences from the standard American approach.
There are many significant themes present in this film. The primary theme is that redemption from past transgressions is never free and can be very expensive.
The overall plot and storyline of the movie brought to mind: "Les Miserables", Victor Hugo; and "Crime and Punishment", Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The cinematography reminded me of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Beautifully done.
The martial fight scenes were excellently choreographed and very exciting to watch.
The language is Chinese with subtitles, However, when I finished viewing the movie, I actually had to ask myself if there were subtitles because they were totally unobtrusive to the film or spoken dialogue.
The story is taken from the point of view of a detective investigating the death of two criminals when they attempted a robbery and murder of the shop-keepers in a small town. The detective is the primary story-teller, and also, the narrator for transitions between scenes. The transition from scene to scene is almost totally seamless to the extent that there is no noticeable break.
During his investigation of the two deaths, the detective suspects that the hero of the story is not a common laborer, but highly trained in the martial arts. The story centers on his relentless pursuit of the truth regardless of the consequences to the families and community.
I classify this film in the same category of the best Chinese films released in recent years: "Hero", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and others I have watched.
The only surprise for me was that I haven't found it nominated or receiving any awards in the foreign film category.
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