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Genre: Comedy/Thriller
Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Sun Honglei, Xiao Shenyang, Yan Ni, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao, Zhao Benshan
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: GV & Clover Films
Rating: PG
Official Website:

Opening Day: 25 February 2010


Wang is a gloomy and cunning noodle shop owner in a desert town in China. Feeling neglected, Wang’s wife secretly goes out with Li, one of the employees. A timid man, Li reluctantly keeps the gun the landlady bought for ‘killing her husband later’. Every single move they make, however, does not escape the boss’s notice. Wang decides to bribe patrol officer Zhang to kill the illicit couple. It looks like a perfect plan: the affair will come to a cruel but satisfying end… or so he thinks. The equally wicked Zhang has an agenda of his own that will see more violence than necessary…

Movie Review:

Who would have thought? Is this film really helmed by the same director who gave us the visual extravaganza that is Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), House of Flying Daggers (2004) and Hero (2002)? Judging from the publicity materials, we are not seeing any magnificent setups, vibrant displays of colours and intense emotional characterizations. What is probably in store, is probably an exaggerated comedy that features slapstick, larger than life personalities and a frivolously small scale event. In other words, we weren’t expecting ourselves to be very impressed with the auteur’s latest work.

After the film’s 95 minutes, we walked out of the theatre telling ourselves: We should have known better. Zhang Yimou has got what it takes, and we shouldn’t have doubted him.

Marketed as a remake of the directorial debut of the Coen Brothers’ 1985 neo noir film Blood Simple, the story takes place in ancient China where the owner of a Chinese noodle shop schemes to murder his adulterous wife and her lover. Things go out of hand as a clumsy fat man, a jolly young girl, and a cold blooded police official are added to the mix. Each of these characters has got his own motive. Who will outwit and outlast his competitors and emerge as the survivor of this battle of human craftiness? And if you must know, there will be blood, lots of them, and a few corpses too.

Zhang the filmmaker has always been known to tell his stories through the vivid use of colours, and this production will prove no different. Gorgeously filmed in the breathtaking landscapes of China’s mountainous exteriors, you’d sense how humans are almost insignificant when placed at the foot of these gigantic nature creations. The eye catching colours worn by the protagonists are also a tool which Zhang uses to enrich the characters in the story. Be it the outlandishly green outfit worn by the noodle shop owner’s wife, the gregariously pink costume worn by her timid lover, or the ominously blue armour worn by the shady police official, they are a treat to the eyes. This is evident proof that the influential and well known filmmaker of the Chinese Fifth Generation has still got what it takes to be respected by his peers in the international scene.

And talking about international, Zhang knows how to make this universal tale exotic to appeal to the foreign audiences. Look out for the hilarious Persian salesmen who open the movie with their riotously side splitting antics. Throw in some English dialogues and the very entertaining dance finale, and you’d have overseas critics loving this uproarious comedy to bits.

The casting of China’s prominent celebrities made this a $300 RMB box office hit in its home country. We may not be familiar with names like Xiao Shenyang, Yan Ni, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao here, but they do deliver engagingly entertaining performances that will have you hooked to your seats. Veterans Sun Honglei (Forever Enthralled, Blood Brothers) and Zhao Benshan (Getting Home, Happy Times) may ring a bell with audiences here, and they effortlessly bring their roles to life, which is a trait of Mainland Chinese actors worth applauding.

The story is not too shallow either, considering the slapstick farce the film seems to be offering. Upon reflection, viewers would see very real and glaring human personalities like greed, cowardice, violence and nastiness in the characters in the movie. Amidst the howling laughter, the film asks you to reflect about the selfish human nature that marks our lives – whether it’s in the past, present or future. When one of the protagonists emerges victorious at the end of the movie, it actually sheds a little hope that this human spirit is something worth celebrating about.

Movie Rating:

(Cheer on the motley crew in this clever and entertaining movie concocted by one of the greatest filmmaking masters of our time)

Review by John Li


. Little Big Soldier (2010)

. Curse of The Golden Flower (2007)

. Crazy Stone (2006)

. Riding Alone For Thousand of Miles (2005)

. Set Off DVD (2008)

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