Re: Film Review: "Blind Shaft"

Date Mon, 12 Apr 2004 21:18:18 -0400

Very good movie, but I think that the film reviewer didn't quite get it right in a few places.

First, I find him a bit too quick to pass judgement on the two central characters as "sociopaths", etc. I don't think that he got their "psychological profiles" quite right (if there's any need to talk about their profiles at all). It seemed to me, rather, that the whole dilemna which arises in the film arises precisely because Song (unlike the older Tang) is not heartless, and begin's to recognize in Yuan Fengming traits like that make him think of his own son (who's expensive education and upbringing is the source of his desire to do bad), and who's also plagued by the very Chinese idea that at the beginning of the movie having killed who he later discovers to probably be Yuan Fengming's father, if he was to now killed Yuan Fengming that would destroy his family line, which is even more monstrous than simple murder and still unacceptable for him.

I think that the reviewer's also wrong in seeing ChaoLu as simply another random acquaintaince of the two murderers (rather, it seems that just like with who's quite possibly his son, they brought him into the mine with them falsely registered as a relative).

Finally, and most importantly, I think that the reviewer doesn't do a good job of explaining how one of the prime gripping features of this film is that it unveils a "gritty" dark-side of life in China not filled with (as he puts it) "seductive young escorts", but rather desperate young people filling all manner of shady roles in an effort to somehow get ahead (note, for example, that we discover that the girl that more or less steals Yuan Fengming's virginity is also doing so to send money back to her family). This movie is gripping precisely because it's not just some Hollywood story of self-masturbatory "angst", but rather a very real and very convincing portrayal of bitter straits and the real situations and decisions that (I've found through personal experiences) many Chinese people make.

It's not that the review's bad, it's just that it doesn't do justice to how good and distinctive (and, yes, disquieting) of a movie this really is.