Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Touch of Sin (2013) is one of the bloodiest films of the year- and least necessary

Lady Snowblood returns and finds she's in an art house mess

Four loosely connected stories provide a running commentary on the state of the Chinese State in the longest 125 hours er  minutes I've ever experienced... Its a well acted film with tons of blood and violence but I'll be god damned if it means anything.  Actually I'm sure this means something if you live in China where the references and allusions will make more sense but if you're not Chinese this will probably not mean much. (for example-there is a theatrical troop performing a play in several pieces but unless know what the story is their presence is lost)

The film is has four connected stories:

The film begins with the murder of three hatchet men who try to rob a man on a motor cycle. This gives way to the story of a man who is trying to end corruption in his small town. The town's leader sold the mine and the new owner is making millions. Wanting to end the corruption and the way things are done he takes matters into his own soon to be bloody hands.

The second story returns to the man on the cycle who returns home for New Year's and to visit his wife and son.  His return is temporary since he's a bandit who likes to kill people.

The third story involves a woman having an affair with a married man. Things go dark thanks to a series of turns of fate.

The final story involves young man who flees after he injures someone at his job. He runs into a friend who then gets him a job in a high class brothel, but love blooms and complications arise.

Other than highlighting the rottenness and corrupt nature of Chinese society I'm at a loss to know what I'm supposed to get out of it. I mean other than being specific to China or perhaps Russia which is supposed to be equally corrupt, is there anything universal in this film, except perhaps saying violence of an awful bloody nature is sometimes required? I don't know beyond showing the sin of that society and perhaps others what is the point? Worse unless you haven't been paying attention to world events (local events in China or Russia), the conclusions it seems to be laying out seem very obvious.

It doesn't help that the film is very uneven. The plotting of the various stories is messy, the set ups and pay offs are actually kind of silly and really aren't conclusions rather they just kind of stopping points. I don't think the film achieves the results it hopes for, for example there was laughter during the opening segments blood bath because it's so out there.

And what of the blood? This film is soaked in it. The first segment is one of the bloodiest slaughters I've ever seen - that's not a recommendation, its just a statement of fact,people die as they do in real life with blood everywhere. On the other hand the conclusion of the third segment riffs on Lady Snowblood as our heroine turns avenging angel in a sequence that would be hailed as an exploitation classic in a different film. Here it just sits there making you wonder where that other film is. Again I have to ask Is the point that China is so bad that only violence will end the corruption? (or could it be that the director wanted to make an exploitation film but didn't feel he could leave the art house to do so?)

And despite it all this film moves like the continents. It feels like hours pass before anything happens. Why? because we're never connected to anything. Who are these people? Why should be care? What are the issues and themes beyond showing corruption? These aren't characters, they are cardboard cut outs being moved around in a polemic. I'm not being told a story I'm being preached at.

Who picked this turkey?

Yea the acting is good and it has some great blood letting but that's it.

No comments:

Post a Comment