Music-vid/ad director Ning is another graduate from the school of Jia Zhangke-style film-making: his debut feature has the kind of small town setting, arid rural backdrops and non-pro cast familiar from too many other Chinese underground movies. The tragi-comic storyline, though, is engagingly fresh: a village priest, anxious to repair the broken Buddha in his temple, steadily betrays all his own principles in his quest for the necessary cash. He tries to pass off scraps of timber as historical relics, gets beaten up by racketeers, poses as a fortune teller - and survives, only to face an ironic reversal of fortune. As an anatomy of the get-rich-quick ethos which currently grips China's rural backwaters, it's a touch obvious. But Li Qiang's account of the clueless protagonist gives it a real lift, and Ning's observational skills keep it very watchable.
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