Two Chinese coal miners have hit upon the perfect scam: murder one of their fellow mine workers, make the death look like an accident, and extort money from the boss to keep the incident ...
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Young teen girl Xiu Xiu is sent away to a remote corner of the Sichuan steppes for manual labor in 1975 (sending young people to there was a part of Cultural Revolution in China). A year ... See full summary »
Little pocket thief Wu never got away from the streets like his friends did. He realises that he is alone, as his old buddy doesn't invite him for his wedding. When he falls in love with a ... See full summary »
A town in Fengjie county is gradually being demolished and flooded to make way for the Three Gorges Dam. A man and woman visit the town to locate their estranged spouses, and become witness to the societal changes.
Wang Shuangli is Deputy Director of the local Cultural Centre, and hopes to be appointed Director. However Old Ma is brought in from the country and installed as Director. This starts a ... See full summary »
Two Chinese coal miners have hit upon the perfect scam: murder one of their fellow mine workers, make the death look like an accident, and extort money from the boss to keep the incident hushed up. For their latest "mark," they choose a naive teenager from a small village, and as they prepare to carry out their newest plan, things start to get complicated...Written by
Two men befriend itinerant workers in order get them work in the mines posing as a relative... then they kill them and, as family, claim compensation.
After a successful score, the pair find a fresh-faced youth just come from the country and take him under their wing planning to start over again - but their new protégé is a genuine innocent, and their relationship shifts around him until it becomes clear that their plan won't run so smoothly this time around...
I've seen this described both as an art-house character drama and as a kind of noir thriller, and while neither description is wrong both ideas of the movie lack something. It's neither - it's just an excellent film.
If it's a character drama, it scores: all three central characters are brilliantly played and have the idiosyncratic, sometimes inconsistent feel of real people. You laugh with them and feel for them, even when sometimes you shouldn't.
If it's a noir it also scores: bleak, honed to a sharp point and without an ounce of fat on, it's a mesmeric film in which the viewer is compelled to keep watching... in spite of the inescapable feeling that it's not going to end happily.
On the other hand, it's visually a world apart from the majority of Chinese art movies. With no music to relieve the realism, it eschews sumptuous visuals in favour of a raw, documentary style which pays off from the first scene, impressing on the viewer the mundane nature of its characters and how chilling simple their plan is.
Unlike most noir flicks, it's not overtly a thriller. Events unfold at their own pace, without the careful buildup and the climactic peak of the traditional thriller, and the murder and crime are presented as a part of these men's lives rather than the central subject of the film.
The central subject of the film is people, and that's where this film's unique impact lies. Not a film noir and not an art film, this is just a fine film which also happens to be a work of art.
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