Jia Zhangke’s Cannes prize-winner comprises four fact-based stories of violence and murder and constitutes a virtual state-of-the-nation report on China in 2013. Across four skilfully interlinked stories, which traverse the country from north to south and back again, Jia presents a range of indelible characters: an ex-miner enraged by corruption and profiteering, a man who kills and steals to stave off boredom, a woman who stabs her would-be rapist and a young kid drifting through the foreign-owned factories and nightclubs of the south.
As the title suggests, the film pays dues to King Hu (A Touch of Zen) and other wuxia directors who explored earlier times when Chinese society had no adequate rule of law. Jia sees a present-day society in which violence seems almost endemic, and dares to ask: what is the country coming to?
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Cannes Film Festival selects
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Directed by Jia Zhangke
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Documentary 2018 64 mins Director: Denis Parrot
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