DVD region 2. Momentum.
have been so many US remakes of Asian movies that it seems only
fair that the trend be reversed once in a while, and although
The Coen Brothers’ debut neo-noir Blood Simple
seems an odd choice to translate to feudal China, the end results
of Zhang Yimou’s re-imagining (and yes, that’s an
appropriate phrase in this case) are pretty pleasing.
Relocating the action to a noodle shop in the middle of the desert,
the film tells the story of miserable, greedy and abusive boss
Wang (Ni Dahong), who is prone to cheating his employees and beating
his young wife (Yan Ni), who in turn is having an affair with
an employee. Discovering this, he hires corrupt local policeman
Zhang (Sun Honglei) to kill the pair. But as anyone who has seen
the original film could tell you, things soon descend into a series
of double crosses and misunderstandings…
story of Blood Simple might seem pure Noir, but
it’s clearly a universal enough idea that it can translate
to entirely alien settings – at times while watching this,
I began to wonder what other styles could be adapted to a remake.
Zhang – director of Hero and House
of Flying Daggers – is arguably a better filmmaker
than the Coens (who, for me, have never matched their stunning
debut, instead becoming critical darlings for a series of increasingly
smug movies – and lest any of their fans complain about
this, let’s not forget that they are no strangers to the
dodgy remake themselves, as anyone who suffered through The
Ladykillers could attest) and while some of the none-too-subtle
slapstick humour on display during the first part of this film
might be a bit much for anyone not hardened to Chinese cinema,
his building of tension and dramatic action scenes can’t
be faulted. As you would expect from his previous work, this film
There’s fun to be had watching a couple of iconic visual
moments from the original film recreated here (I’ll let
you find out which ones for yourself), and on the whole, the film
does a splendid job of capturing the theme of the first film –
namely that murder is rarely as straight-forward as the movies
This film has had something of a critical mauling and bombed badly
in America (where it was released as A Woman, A Gun and
a Noodle Shop), but I suspect that had as much to do
with the Coens being sacred cows as any failings in this film.
I’d suggest you ignore the naysayers and give it a chance.
Terrible cover though!
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