A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Instead of seeing Never Let Her Go, I went to see Zhang Yimou’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop. The title made me think it would be another goofily entertaining Asian Western knock-off, similar to Kim Ji-woon’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Instead, it turned out to be a remake of the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, albeit with the setting changed to the Gobi desert some time in the past. I must admit that I’ve never gotten around to seeing Blood Simple, so I can’t compare this film with the original.

The story tells of a noodle shop owner, Wang, who learns that his wife is having an affair with his assistant. He offers to pay a local policeman to kill them. However, instead of killing the couple, he steals a gun belonging to the wife. (She bought it off a Persian trader who speaks English and wears a pirate costume.) He then goes to Wang and makes him believe he killed the couple. Wang gets the money from his safe and then pays the policeman. The policeman kills Wang and goes to rob his safe, but he finds it is locked. (Question: why didn’t he kill Wang while he had the safe open? There was nothing to prevent him from doing this.) This sets off a series of events that lead to the movie’s bloody climax.

The problem I had with this film is that the characters are so broadly drawn that it’s hard to care about them. (One of them has two enormous front teeth, like a beaver’s. I guess this is supposed to be funny.) The basic idea of the film is that none of the characters knows what is actually going on. It’s a clever idea, but the film never becomes anything more than just clever.

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