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Black Coal, Thin Ice [DVD]
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Chinese crime thriller following former detective Zhang Zili (Fan Liao) as he teams up with his ex-partner in an attempt to solve the case that put an end to their careers. When murders begin to take place similar to those the detectives were investigating several years previously they discover that Wu Zhizhen (Lun-Mei Gwei), a dry cleaners clerk, is the prime suspect as the men she has been romantically involved with have been killed. Despite knowing that Wu poses a threat, Zhang finds himself drawn to her and he, too, becomes involved with the potential killer. Will he be able to solve the case?
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Top Customer Reviews
The performances are decent but there was a definite problem with how the female characters were written. For example, there's a scene where the main character (a man its pretty much impossible to like) assaults a woman and her male colleagues just laugh. Then there's the relationship between the female suspect and the main character. She doesn't seem interested in him at all yet he won't leave her alone.
There's a twist in the story but really it just seems like the film drags and the ending is really big WTF moment.
Overall, I can't say I liked this film.
Traditions of quirky characters continue. But inserted into the screenplay is how people in China treat each other. And the driest humour I’ve come across in quite some time. It really is a treat.
The camera may not move like a movie but what it looks at is so real, so non plastic. The soundtrack across five speakers is excellent. Maybe its like Hitchcock said about the story being unimportant: what we want to experience is how the characters interact with each other. But the murder story is interesting. Compelling would need movie direction.
The Chinese title translates as Daylight Fireworks and I think that's a more fitting title considering the storyline but I like Black Coal, Thin Ice better as it works to convey a sense of how grim and bleak the setting is. I just lapped this up. Fan Liao is a new actor to me and I've been checking out his other films to find out what else he's been in. Disappointingly there are a lot of romantic comedies in there but maybe after winning the Silver Bear award for his portrayal in this on he'll take on more gritty roles in the future. I'll be watching out for them.
This won the 64th Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear award and for good reason. The cinematography, acting, storyline and setting all come together to make for a great film and I'd happily recommend this to anyone with an interest in Asian cinema as one of the better ones.
Chief detective Zhang Zili (Liao Fan) was part of the case, but is forced to retire from the force. Now working as a security guard, the original case remained unsolved and its only through a similar set of murders that Zili takes an interest. The original victim’s wife Wu Zhizhen (Gwei Lun-Mei) becomes the centre of attention, for all the murders.
‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ is a puzzler, noir in concept but with an even more elusive base. The further you go into this film the less the crimes are of importance, the plot twists and turns back in on itself, verging on the incomprehensible. Its an oddly erratic mix of beautifully constructed scenes undone by unexpected moments which make no sense to the overall story.
Yinan plays with your thoughts and emotions, and not just with the central relationship in the film. Its a neat trick to make you react in unexpected ways, smudging whats real and whats not, who’s good and who’s evil, what’s right and what’s wrong. What may be initially frustrating becomes something to be enjoyed. So much so that you want to watch it again, even though you’ll probably be even more confused on a second visit!
From that point forward it is a murder mystery up there with some of the top in my opinion. Yi'nan Diao creates a bleak setting and very well crafted characters along the way, finding the other severed body parts as the film progresses. It is a slow pace, but strangely gripping. Down on his luck Chang (played excellently by Fan Liao) is assigned to the case, which devolves very quickly. The story is then picked up five years after.
This is a very refreshing film in a sense that Diao doesn't try to present any false air of romanticism with the surroundings, rather, presenting everything as is – albeit very nicely shot, but not stylised. The neon lights cut though this bleak setting and add to the air of pollutive almost suffocation, which goes hand in hand with the sorry characters, which are properly fleshed out and all interesting, with no dead weight.
I was in an absorbing and open mood when I put this in the DVD player, and as I watched events unfold in an very well crafted and bleak yet intensely visual noir, I was satisfied that I was watching a film which, once again, shows Asia – China especially, along with South Korea – are creating the most interesting films in the world today.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I rarely give the single star review, but, believe me, in this case, it stands proudly as dire. The police scenes are a cross between cringeworth and ridiculous (they don't... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Paul G
This Chinese noir thriller tries really hard to be entertaining but ultimately leaves the viewer dissatisfied. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Happyfamily
Atmospheric and moody film noir with enigmatic leads and evocative cinematography. Like "A Touch of Sin" by Zhangke Jia it presents a desolate and bleakly compelling vision... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Udonomi
The first 15 minutes of this film are very promising and features one of the most perfectly and realisticly filmed shoot outs I've ever watched. Read morePublished 23 months ago by OMG! It's got a plug!
The first film I've seen by Diao Yinan is as cold and harsh as it's name suggests. Taking place in the frigid, frozen north of China it seems like the bleak surroundings are... Read morePublished 23 months ago by carlosnightman