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A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop

2 Ratings: 1.5
Film directed by Zhang Yimou

Opens September 3, 2010 | Runtime:1 hr. 35 min. R some violence Wang is a gloomy and cunning noodle shop owner in a desert town in China. Feeling neglected, Wang’s wife secretly goes out with his employee, Li. A timid man, Li reluctantly … see full wiki

1 review about A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop

A Chinese Re-Issue Of The Coen Brothers' "Blood Simple"...

  • Feb 22, 2011
Rating:
+4

I know what you’re thinking, American filmmakers have been ripping off ideas for films from Asia in the past recent years (most especially in horror and drama) that it would be fine if Asian filmmakers turned the tables on them. Well, director Zhang Yimou seems to have this very idea when he made a Chinese re-issue of the Coen Brothers’ now-classic “Blood Simple” with “A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop” (or if you prefer “A Simple Noodle Story” as it was called in Asia).

The basic premise of the Coens creation remains the same with some obvious changes such as the story takes place in 19th century China and that the characters have some different dynamics allotted them by the direction. Wang (Ni Dahiong) is a rich businessman who owns a noodle shop and he has a wife (Yan Ni) who is having an affair with one of their employees, Li (Xiao Shenyang). Suspicious after he heard news that his wife had bought a pistol from a Persian merchant, Wang instructs a detective named Zhang (Sun Hong Lei) to look into the matter and then to kill his adulterous wife and her lover if proven guilty. Through accident, misunderstanding, and pure coincidence, things begins to spiral out of control, resulting not just the deaths of one or two, but several other people not involved in the affair at all.

                      Yan Ni as Wang's wife in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                     Ni Dahong as Wang in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                     Xiao Shenyang as Li, Yan Ni as Wang's wife and Zhao Benshan as Patrol Team Commander in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

The film has a very similar script as with “Blood Simple” but this time around, the wife (unnamed here) is the central focus of the story as well as the detective who plays the odd, dark wildcard. Set in the 19th century, the film also incorporates certain cultural issues as with Wang’s ability to buy a bride, and this is obviously a time when rich men can have numerous concubines that they can abuse if they wish. The wife sees her affair with Li as something that she can hold on to while she bears the abuses of her rich husband, whom she married for social status. Li may either be in love or not with the wife, but one thing was fairly obvious, he has this twisted loyalty towards his boss that even though he is in this affair, he feels guilt. Zhang is the film’s Visser in the original; he is methodical, careful and he sees this as an opportunity to change his life and he can clean up his act after all is said and done.

                    Sun Hunglei as Zhang in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                   Yan Ni as Wang's wife in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

There are no heroes and villains in Zhang Yimou’s film, (as with the Coen original) the film is entrenched in themes of betrayal, greed, guilt, stupidity, over-zealousness and serves as a cautionary tale for those whose actions are based on less than noble reasons. I have to admit, “Noodle Shop” is just as enthrallingly clever as “Blood Simple”, Yimou maintains a pace that keeps his viewer intrigued. I have to say that Yimou and the screenplay by Xu Zhengchao and Shi Jiangvah may be more energetic and fun than the original. It has that grim humorous atmosphere that makes its characters very interesting, as they all try to cover their tracks and to stay one step ahead of one another. The supporting cast played by Mao Mao and Ye Cheng prove their worth as they fumble, gossip, scheme to make sure that they get paid for their work. I was also impressed with the way the direction remembered to inject some nice touches of Chinese noodle making, and it looked more like art than anything else.
 

                      Xiao Shenyang as Li in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                     Yan Ni as Wang's wife and Ni Dahong as Wang in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                    A scene from the film "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

I am quite familiar with Yimou’s work and I’ve always liked his manner of letting his jokes play off of each other. He doesn’t do the comedy in a slapstick kind of way, rather he allows his viewer to see certain details as odd and humorous. There is an odd way for the police to announce themselves, as they are on horseback and yet they have this unique device that manipulates air that makes an odd siren-like noise. Yimou also knows when to use cinematic pauses to let the viewer take in all he has seen, Yimou has a knack for making meager devices into a charm; and aided by the unique form of photography executed by Yimou’s cinematographer, the viewer is kept in a place where everything looks fresh. I loved the way the barren wasteland is given character through the use of simple, yet snazzy light effects to express the passage of time; it almost speaks as if the darkness hides the schemers and the light reveals the hidden truth.

                     Mao Mao as Chen in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

                    Yan Ni as Wang's wife and Sun Hunglei as Zhang in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."

“A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop” stays true to the story that inspired it, I liked the ending but I thought while its similarities to “Blood Simple” may be its strength, I thought Yimou could’ve played it differently. I am not sure, there was a lot of inventive touches here and there, even for a remake and I felt somehow let down that it just became that simple in the end. I guess I liked the clever changes Yimou had set in the film’s entirety and I felt that the climax was a tad bit lazy that he could’ve done it better. But hey, I loved the idea of a Chinese director giving his take on a premise such as “Blood Simple”. The fresh new style and flavor he had incorporated were very appealing and arguably even more attractive than the source material. The film is a form of appealing stylish art, it maintains that clever execution that spiced up its flavor. Yes, the film is a good exercise in direction, but it is to be argued if it was necessary.

Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."  Poster art for "A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop"
 


 
A Chinese Re-Issue Of The Coen Brothers' A Chinese Re-Issue Of The Coen Brothers'

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March 08, 2011
I've been curious about this one for months and now I can go get it online. Good review man!! I'm anxiopus to check this out as I've always been a fan of Blood Simple. ;-)
March 09, 2011
thanks, bud! You will like this if you dig Blood Simple. Been trying to watch a Japanese horror film but I've been hanging a lot with friends on my free time (doing a project), that my regular viewing habits have taken a nose dive. Hey-hey!! A SERBIAN FILM is about to ship tomorrow. Happy days ahead....LOL!
March 14, 2011
You should be in cinematic heaven once A Serbian Film arrives. I just ordered Zulawski's Szamanka which shipped out today. I can't wait to see it and review. Happy times indeed my friend!!!
 
February 26, 2011
Even the BOX ART is similar to one of the Blood Simple releases on DVD! Thanks for this!
February 26, 2011
I really liked Blood Simple and I thought this was a clever re-imagining of that film. I figured you may like this one...
 
February 26, 2011
It looks as colorful as Yimou's other films, but very different in terms of tone and themes. Interesting write-up Woo. And I'd agree, it's always interesting to see Asian films inspired by American ones, rather than always having it be the other way around. It's kind of funny though since back in the late '40s and through the '50s, many Japanese films were made in a similar style to American films of that era.
February 26, 2011
I agree. Seems like Asian and Western filmmakers have been feeding off each other as far as I can remember. This was good; had that arthouse flair and it aims to please. I think you'll like this one.
February 26, 2011
There also seems to be an exchange between American mystery/suspense films and Asian ones. Take "Infernal Affairs" for example.
February 26, 2011
Also, I just wanted to point out that the "thought-provoking" button doesn't appear to be calculating correctly. I had to click on it twice before it would go through.
February 26, 2011
I know. You need to refresh the page before trying again. It happens a lot in my reviews lately, not sure why. You might want to report it, Alex and Jason had already in other reviews.
February 26, 2011
By the way, I dug up a classic samurai horror movie that I know you will love!!
February 26, 2011
It's been a recurring problem. I mentioned it a few months ago and I thought it was taken care of, but it seems to have popped up again.
February 26, 2011
Sweet.
 
February 23, 2011
"the film is entrenched in themes of betrayal, greed, guilt, stupidity, over-zealousness and serves as a cautionary tale for those whose actions are based on less than noble reasons", so well said WP. I was actually lucky enough to see this one some time back after a friend hooked it up.
February 26, 2011
Yeah, I enjoyed this one. I made the right decision in buying this since Netflix wouldn't send it to me.
 
February 22, 2011
Oh, I saw this one last year, didn't like it though. It's a little silly for my taste, LOL...
February 23, 2011
he-heh. Silly? I liked the way it was darkly silly mwahahah. I guess I've always liked Yimou's style. Hey, what's the hottest Chinese movie there right now?
 
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