Oiao (the extraordinary Zhao Tao) lives in a depressed mining town. Her boyfriend, Bin (Liao Fan), is a dashing gangster who works for a corrupt property developer. After his boss is murdered, Bin ascends in rank within the Jianghu (a criminal brotherhood) but finds himself vulnerable to rivals. When they both are arrested, Qiao makes a fateful decision: she takes the blame to save Bin. After five years in prison, she emerges to find her world has transformed. Her former associates have moved into legitimate businesses, while Bin has found another woman. Qiao seeks revenge, but, more importantly, she searches for a new identity in a changing China - a search that will take her to Three Gorges Dam and toward a powerful revelation.
Chinese Gangster's Moll
- Ash Is Purest White review by JR
Qiao is a gangster's girlfriend although she often professes that she is not one of them. It's hard to like or care about her: while travelling with her boyfriend in his car, she suddenly announces she wants to drive 100km in the opposite direction to get an ice cream so they turn round and after a few kilometres she says she has changed her mind. She feels nothing for her victims when she scams men she follows into expensive restaurants, but when her ill-gotten money is stolen on a ferry by a fellow passenger, she goes nuts. But her main weakness is her blind, undying love for her criminal boyfriend. Despite being so feisty, she 'stands by her man' and admits a crime in order to save him, and spends 4 years in gaol for him.
The plot is at times shaky and the main characters seem incapable of emotional honesty or able to communicate effectively. It's a long (135 min) and frustratingly unsatisfying watch.
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
A new classic is born!
- Ash Is Purest White review by TE
Wow! Another brilliant film from Jia Zhangke. The central performance by Zhao Tao carries the narrative with mesmerising excellence.
The story is set within the context of an ancient Chinese code of 'outsider' living, giving fresh insights into life in this increasingly powerful nation.
At the same time, it is the age old themes of love and loss that dominate, and the film has emotional echoes of 'In The Mood for Love'.
To cap it all, the cinematography is stunning, with many memorable landscapes and cityscapes.