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Well-executed thriller that gets more interesting in afterthought
I wouldn't quite call it the best Chinese film I've seen this year--that would be BangZi Melody, but it does follow a recent trend of improvement and innovation in Chinese cinematography I haven't seen in many years. Still, domestic reception is lukewarm, while crappy Jingoistic popcorn films like Wolf Warrior and Operation Red Sea get showered in praise, but that just means China is in lack of good audiences--which can't be helped in the short term, not good filmmakers. The censorship obviously isn't helping, but in the case of this film, doesn't seem a huge hindrance either.
The start of the film felt a little puzzling, but I unfortunately missed the first 3-5 minutes of the film, and judging from the rest of the film, that could mean a lot. Good thing it didn't prevent me from following the rest of the plot, and the way background information is delivered little by little, subtly and naturally, I find to be a common characteristic of all good drama.
Our mute protagonist's acting is a notch above Chinese popcorn films, somewhere around Youth(a.k.a Fang Hua)'s level, and most of the other acting is held to a decent standard. The children's acting is above average by Chinese standards and was a pleasant surprise. The only notable exception seems to be the two attorneys near the beginning and the interrogators at the end of the film, all part of the judicial system. They were like marionettes...this seems to have deeper implications?
The story unfolds steadily; the dark comedy throughout most of the film aptly complements the grand concept. I was confused about the name at first(the Chinese name is no less confusing than the English version), but when you grasp the grand concept, you'll have an understanding of the name, but even then there may be multiple layers to the meaning or multiple interpretations. The film also used a few Chinese metaphors graphically, but that unfortunately means that the international audience will probably miss it. One universal symbol though is the money; if you follow the money, the nature of all the characters could be determined...I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler. Overall, there are few useless shots--they either build characters and fill in the background, which in turn contribute to the grand concept, or deliver the clues necessary in a thriller. Speaking of clues, they're quite well hidden, and sometimes cleverly misleading, that's why the film would seem well-executed the more you think about it afterhand.
TheBigSick is a reviewer that left me a deep impression by giving a 9 to Operation Red Sea; this same reviewer now comes over and rants about "too many plot holes" in Wrath of Silence. IMDB should consider adding an IQ test to help add credibility to user reviews.
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