Four narratives weave an unsettling tapestry of life in modern day China. A worker (Jiang) fights against the corrupt capitalist who sold off the local mine that employed him, leaving local residents destitute. A migrant worker (Wang) casually murders highway assailants, then uses deadly violence to commit petty thievery. A young factory worker (Luo) is docked several weeks' wages for causing a machine accident, and is forced to find another job. A receptionist (Zhao) in a sauna is mistaken for a prostitute, and exacts revenge on the disbelieving client.
Why we love it
Venturing away from his quieter, more contemplative work ("Still Life"), director Jia turns to "ripped from the headlines" true stories of brutality and cynical indifference to cast a harsh, revealing light on the New China. Using visual touchstones from Wuxia martial arts films, and evoking the lawlessness of the Wild West, he combines social commentary with sequences of jarring, graphic violence. The result is an engrossing yet disturbing view of China's consumerist society. This beautifully ugly epic won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes, and deservedly so. It's got the "Touch."