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A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop chinese movie review
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
4 people found this review helpful
by The Butterfly
Sep 24, 2022
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 5.5
This review may contain spoilers

"If I see Wang, I'll be sure to tell him"

Director Zhang Yi Mou ventured onto the wild side when he remade the Coen Brothers debut 1984 noir film, Simple Blood. Instead of 1980's Texas, Zhang took the story to the Gobi Desert in ye olden times. Instead of a black comedy, A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop (WGNS) bounced from slapstick comedy with bucktoothed and cross-eyed characters to multiple murders. At times the film was entertaining and at others confusing with only the saturated colors and beautiful shots of the desert reminding the viewer of the amazing director at the helm.

At Wang's Noodle Shop in the middle of the desert, Wang's wife, unlike the other characters was given no name, buys a gun from a flamboyant Persian salesman. She was sold as a wife to the miserly and sadistic owner 10 years earlier and she's carrying on an affair of sorts with Li, the bartender. The two goofy noodle cooks haven't been paid in months even though the dastardly Wang sits in his room counting his money.

As evil as Wang is he meets his match with Zhang, a police patrol officer, who sells him the news about his wife's affair. Wang offers him more money to murder the adulterous couple. From then on the film becomes entertaining as double crosses, triple crosses and riders crisscrossing the desert with bodies cause great upheaval in the small shop.

I'm not here to compare this with the Coens' film as I have only read about it, but knowing the Coen films, I suspect it was much darker and more gruesome than this farcical murder story. If perchance I watch Simple Blood, I will amend this review. As a film in its own right WGNS had some laugh out loud moments. Because most of the characters were deeply flawed and caricatures, it could be hard to care about their outcomes.

The costumes were outlandishly loud with the exception of Wang's costume. Zhang's electric indigo and black uniform was one of the most subdued. It felt like Zhang Yi Mou also overcooked some of the scenery shots-the skies glowed bright blue- they came across as almost comic strip in style. There were some gorgeous shots of the striped desert, but there were also some shots that looked like he used a fisheye lens as they were rounded on the sides or stretched too far. If all of these things were to remind us that this was just make-believe he succeeded rather well.

Yan Ni had the tough job of selling the shrill adulterous wife. I couldn't find Wang's wife loathsome though, she was a woman stuck in the middle of nowhere perversely tortured by her husband with the scars to prove it. That she was in need of comfort and hoping to divorce him seemed reasonable in her situation. She came across more nuanced than either her dim-bulb lover or her repulsive older husband. The two cooks were there strictly for comedy relief. A rather acrobatic noodle making session between them was fun though. Sun Hong Lei as the greedy and murderous Zhang had almost no lines, but conveyed his observations and reactions all through slight facial and body movements.

Having watched my share of Chinese films, I could find the humor in the story and realize that slapstick is all part of it. More people fell down in this movie than a female lead in a romantic Kdrama. Watching it free from prejudice regarding the original and judging it on its own merit, WGNS had some entertaining moments. It was a strange and nihilistic morality tale of greed and lust, told in vibrant colors despite its dark underbelly. As a fan of Zhang Yi Mou's films I do have to admit it was a bit disappointing. I expect better from this director. I guess everyone has to try something out of their comfort zone at times-A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop was probably out of his and mine.

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