He Ping's overdue follow-up to The Swordsman in Double-Flag Town is one of the few Chinese films to have absolutely no subtext: all its phallic play, gender subversion and castration fantasies are right up there on screen. Set in the 1920s, it's about a macho painter hired to produce New Year pictures for a fireworks company headed by a woman who's been forced to dress and behave like a man. She, however, finds the presence of a louche male in the house curiously disturbing and starts paying him private visits. Ructions of the explosive sort ensue, culminating in a hair-raising fireworks contest orchestrated by the vengeful elders of the clan. No great leap forward for Fifth Generation cinema, but a lot of fun.
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