During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get involved in a war to control the business that ends up destroying their lives and their culture.
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.
Qiao (Zhao Tao) lives in a mining town in the Chinese province of Shanxi. Her boyfriend Bin (Liao Fan) is a mob boss. As years go by, crime life brings consequences to their lives - individually and as a couple.
Though the film is long at two and a quarter hours, it is rarely dull. The two lead performers, especially Zhao, are engaging as are the occasional rural landscapes especially the ones captured by train travel.
The middle sequence is the most fascinating. When Qiao is on a mission in a strange place, she might act in terrible ways but it is still tempting to root for her; she's not much different from the corruption that surrounds her.
Overall, "Ash Is Purest White" is a fascinating journey albeit a cynical one that begins in 2001 and finishes seventeen years later. Whether it's taking place in a corrupt small town, a prison, or a chaotic travel experience, it is always intriguing in a mostly quiet way. - dbamateurcritic
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