Directed by Johnny Ma
Official Selection, 2016 Berlin International Film Festival
Best Canadian First Feature, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Jeonju International Film Festival
Billowing rain batters a thick evergreen tree line in striking slow motion. Crimson title cards bleed into a congested vision of modern China compressed by a telephoto lens. Johnny Ma’s oppressive film noir is anything but subtle; taking responsibility means tiptoeing across a moral minefield. One wrong step and your life may come apart.
The story of Lao Shi (Gang Chen) proves with certainty that no good deed goes unpunished. After accidently injuring a motorcyclist in a traffic collision, the taxi driver saves the man’s life by taking him to the hospital before paramedics arrive. According to Chinese law, this decision makes him fully responsible for the man’s medical bills.
As one might expect, an increasingly pressurized situation develops and upends all sense of security, both financially and emotionally. Expenses mount and so do Lao Shi’s stress levels and desperation. Eventually, after being alienated from his wife and daughter, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
With cold precision, this daring debut takes aim at the contradictory governmental systems and procedures that strip someone of their humanity. It echoes the fatalism and systemic rot found in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple, forcing well-intentioned individuals to watch as their weaknesses are splattered across the frame. –Glenn Heath, Jr.
Writer: Johnny Ma
Starring: Gang Chen, Nai An, Wang Hongwei