Qiao is in love with local mobster Bin. During a fight between rival gangs, she fires a gun to protect him. Qiao gets 5 years in prison for this act of loyalty. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off. A story of love, betrayal and loyalty set in China’s underworld.
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Far from being a mere symbol of feminine vulnerability, Zhao emerges as no less than the film’s coauthor, with her performance bringing grit to an action-melodrama hybrid that might otherwise register as a bid to endear China’s greatest art-house auteur to a wider commercial audience.
Ash is Purest White is plugged into the traditions of Hong Kong pop cinema not through a mere desire for hat-tip homage, but through a deep understanding how folklore and poplore color how people think about and envisage their lives.
Great cinematography of the changing Chinese landscape. Great to see a gangster movie that focuses on the female "arm candy." Zhao Tao is phenomenal. Loved her toughness: she doesn't simper or preen; she is the powerful volcano with the purest code of gangster respect. Liked the questioning of the prison double standard: women are supposed to wait for their men to be released; meanwhile men move on with impunity.
The acceleration of anomie in our manic, already exhausted new millennium gets its compressed yet crawling due in Jia's latest panorama of constrictive sublimity, Chinese-style. Even headstrong resilience registers as a variation on resignation here, while rising above criminality is indistinguishable from sinking into hypocrisy.
Jia can still be maddeningly loose, but this is another rich tandem arc of people and their changing society, with the very valuable question about what loyalty to a system (or a person) means, provides, and costs. Which is to say, as loose as it is, its view of change—inevitable, fought against, maybe purifying—is not just food for thought, but a three course meal. And part of the looseness is genres blurring.
17 years of metamorphosis in China, seen through the story of a couple of second-rate gangsters. Zhao TAO, wife of director Jia ZHANGKE, plays a hieratic portrait of a woman. === 17 années de métamorphose en Chine, vues au travers l'histoire d'un couple de gangsters de second ordre. Zhao TAO, femme du réalisateur Jia ZHANGKE, campe un hiératique portrait de femme.
Preserving a detailed, intimate, and observant style, so reminiscent of Hou Hsiao Hsien, Zhangke provides us a culturally intense, consistently-told story with a noir sense of punishment, bitterness, and disillusion. (3.5 stars)
Despite a remarkable performance by Tao Zhao, this twisted version of An Affair to Remember suffers from pacing issues and there’s the feeling scenes should be more affecting than they are. However, it packs a great one-two comedic punch, first with a dance sequence to the sound of Village People’s YMCA, quickly followed by the quote “I only love two things in this world: animal documentaries and ballroom dancing.”
Cinema. If a volcano's ashes are the purest, there is no doubt that this filmmaker extraordinary capacity of framing people in spaces (cities, industrial ruins, reservoirs), is no less pure. Here mountains really depart, constituting a rare opus of contemporary cinema, mainly by the intelligence of its lucid rawness. Its final frame is significant: this film is the portrait of a woman by a constitutive camera.
Viennale _ I admire the freedom of Jia Zhangke. He mixes genre films, finds his own pace, needs little to captivate the viewer. The trajectory of the film is comparable to Hitchcock´s "Psycho" if you consider the main scene happening after only an hour. From there on begins another film, a melodrama, centered around a lost woman without landmark. There is also a beautiful hotel scene, strange and almost unreal.