A Touch of Sin (2013) Bfi Player

April 5th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Writer/Director: Jia Zhangke | Cast: Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu, Wang Baoqian, Luo Lanshan | 133’  | Drama | Mandarin/Cantonese/English

A TOUCH OF SIN has more than a touch of anger and a sneering contempt for modern China’s moral bankruptcy brought on by rapid urbanisation. More visually stylish than the director’s naturalist forerunners, and more appealing to Western audiences, this eventful wuxia road movie threads together four real stories from the pages of the contemporary Chinese press. Vibrant and glistening with vehemence for the splashy affluence of contemporary China, it satirises a country where donkeys, oxen and even tigers now jostle with migrants, Western cars and state of the art modernity.

The story opens in the Northern agricultural province of Shanxi, where a simple man called Dahai, (Jiang) is understandably put out by the sudden opulent wealth and new-found kudos of the town’s mayor – who has recently trousered profits from the sale of a local coal mine. This unleashes an angry backlash of brutality that runs from North to South, expressed by ordinary people smarting from the rape of their country: a migrant worker coming home for New Year; a receptionist at a sauna who is attacked by a rich client; a factory worker who finds himself out of work. Representing the decent values of traditional China, this army of resentment fights a losing battle against the inexorable march of capitalism in modern China. MT




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