Ash is the Purest White (Jiang hu er nü, 2018)

UK New Wave Films Blu-ray edition

Text below written 2020-11-10


Another great film from the Chinese master of Neo-Noir drama, Jia Zhang-Ke. He and his director friend Diao Yinan continues
to surprise us with these beautiful and exciting films of the Chinese New Wave of filmmaking, and where Yinan uses Gwei Lun
Mei as his main actress Zhang-Ke has his wife Zhao Tao as his Muse. Diao Yinan can be seen in a smaller part as Lin.

This film is a visually stunning, thanks to the french Cinematographer Eric Gautier, art drama, crime story and roadmovie, but
most of all it's a some sort of miserable love story. Just as with Diao Yinan's films and Gwei Lun Mei Zhang-Ke has a leading
actress that you can't take your eyes from, and that is Zhao Tao in the role of So Zhao-Qiao, the sombre Jiang hu woman.

A gangster, Bin (Diao Yinan regular Liao Fan) runs a night-club and gaming house in ... where? I think it is in Datong in the
Shanxi province ? A dirty mining town with a lot of pollution and called The City of Coal, says Wikipedia. So, yet again a Jia
Zhang-Ke movie with settings in the not so glamorous parts of China and about people from the Jiang hu underworld.
Guo Bin runs the Club with the help of his girlfriend So Zhao-Qiao (Zhao Tao).

In one scene she visits her father, an old coal mining worker who's leading the protests against a private entrepeneur who has
bought the mine and shut it down and planning to move the business to the distant Xinjiang region. A glimpse of the new
capitalist and neoliberal China (and something the whole western world long since has succumbed to, welcome to the club).
The first time we saw something about this exploitation of the unglamorous Chinese coal mining areas in a film could've been
in Li Yang's excellent 2003 crime-drama "Blind Shaft" .... the start of China Film Noir ?

Zhao-Qiao goes to jail for 5 years after taking the blame for carrying a gun (belonging to Guo Bin). She's a gangsta bitch and
won't snitch on him, so she gets the max penalty. But, he won't answer her calls and when she's out, he's gone.
From here the film plays out like a roadmovie as Zhao-Qiao starts searching for her boyfriend gone. She may be looking un-
happy and feeling lost in the vastness of China, BUT she has stamina and won't accept that he dumped her like this.

The Odyssey of So Zhao-Qiao

Searching for Guo Bin: I'm not sure where she went and i guess i will have to see it again, but she's from Datong city in
Shanxi in the northern part of China, she's travelling by ferry to ... Chaozhou in the south-eastern Guangdong province,
on the Han river ... ? Then, maybe ... she goes to the western Hubei province and Fengjie and the Three Gorges Dam ?
Finally she hooks up with a UFO hunter guy (Zheng Xu) and is on her way to Xinjiang, when she's longing for home and
returns to Datong. Will she meet Bin again and will there be a happy ending to this stunning miserable love story ?

The UK Blu-ray doesn't present the ratio of the film, but it starts out in 4:3 and then shifts to some widescreen, and with
mandarin audio 5.1 DD with english subtitles, region B. No extras

 

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