Zhang Zili wasn't always a badly paid security guard. He was once one of the best detectives on the police force. That is until injuries sustained during an investigation into a gruesome and unsolved murder case forced him into early retirement. That was five years ago and the killings have started again. Determined to track down the killer, Zhang is drawn towards a mysterious woman seemingly connected to each victim. But nothing is what it appears to be...
Noir-ish Chinese crime drama - a bit depressing, but well worth a watch
- Black Coal, Thin Ice review by RP
I quite enjoyed this Chinese film that won two award at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.
It's an atmospheric, noir-ish crime drama set in a bleak, unnamed northern Chinese city apparently in the throes of a perpetual winter. A disgraced cop is now working as a security guard and fast descending into alcoholism when he comes across something reminiscent of a crime scene from 5 years before. Assorted body parts are found in the coal feed to a power station. It seems the victims are all connected to the same beautiful woman who works in a local laundry. The ex-cop stars a relationship with her, his ex-partner (still in the police) doggedly continues the official investigation - and suffers death by ice-skate. In the end, the baddie is found and the film ends with a somewhat pretentious firework display.
It isn't a bad film but I confess that I found it all very depressing, perhaps literally too noir. If you haven't seen any modern Chinese cinema this is well worth a watch. I'll give it 3/5 stars.