Friday 22 November 2013

A Touch of Sin [2013]

Chinese maestro Jia Zhang-ke has always been a dissenting political voice, and in the brutal, powerful, explosive and astounding hyperlink film A Touch of Sin, he focused on the dark underbelly of China’s so-called success story. Using 4 loosely connected stories he traversed a wide socio-economic spectrum, and ended each with at least one death, which clearly displayed his downbeat stance. In the 1st and best story, Dahai (Jiang Wu), increasingly angry about how the local boss has become insanely rich by selling a collective propoerty, suddenly goes off his fuse leading to an incredible sequence of unforgettable carnage; in the 2nd, Zhou (Wang Baoqiang), coldly and clinically commits murders before and after his trip to home at a small village, albeit for divergent reasons; in the 3rd, Xiao (Zhao Tao), receptionist at a massage parlour, is ambushed by the wife of the man she is having an affair with, and her tolerance limit is memorably crossed when two men keep badgering her with the assumption that money can buy her “services”; and in the 4th, a young boy skips town when he becomes financially liable for a factory accident, and when he falls for a girl who caters to the fantasies of the super-rich, his despair becomes total. Jia brilliantly punctuated the grim and serene realism with shocking violence, black humour, lacerating ironies and stylized moments, jarringly showed how inequitable growths invariably breeds violence and disillusionment. The scenes where Dahai roams around the streets with his shotgun, Xiao transforms into a martial-arts warrior, or the terrific opening where Zhou is held up by 3 robbers who are oblivious of who they are dealing with, are sure to leave one jolted and electrified.

p.s. Watched this as part of 2013 Kolkata International Film Festival (KFF)

Director: Jia Zhang-Ke
Genre: Drama/Hyperlink Film/Political Satire/Omnibus Film
Language: Mandarin
Country: China


Sam Juliano said...

Sounds like I have something extraordinary to look forward to Shubhajit! I know the film was a major competitor at Cannes, and hope to see it upon its NYC release. I do appreciate Zhang-Ke's previous work, especially STILL LIFE and THE WORLD, and have long been fascinated with his provocative examination of youth alienation and globalization, negotiated with compelling minimalism and stark realism. As always you have penned a brilliant review of this obviously important work.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. Yeah, this is most highly recommended in my opinion. This was my 2nd tryst with Jia's cinema - I'd had seen Zhantai/Platform earlier. Though there were some thematic links, his narrative choice was very different here. In fact, though who've seen a lot of his works, too, have mentioned that this is really different from his filmography. Would love to know your thoughts once you've watched it.