Sun Valley

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He Ping invented the 'Chinese Western' in The Swordsman in Double-Flag Town, and the Freudian psycho-drama with Chinese characteristics in Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker. This sets out to combine the two in the self-consciously mythic tale of a widow, her lover and the taciturn hitman who turns up to kill the lover. If the result is less than terrific, it's because He has to strain so hard to avoid repeating himself; only the extraordinary PoV shots in which all colours except red are bleached to monochrome (expressing the killer's pathological fear of blood) are genuine visual and dramatic coups. But the actors are fine and the Gansu locations help, anchoring the psycho-sexual problems in credible physical details: scorching days, cold nights, hot baths, encrustations of mud.

By: TR

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