VenueWalter Reade Theater
North American Premiere
“Famous lawyer went to a distant border area, and won justice for a wrongly accused man,” Pan Xiao says into his phone, dictating his own breathless press releases. Taking selfies and sporting a soul patch, Pan is a smug legal grandstander who went to Northwestern China to get a falcon poacher off on a technicality, then demanded the criminal’s car as collateral for his payment. He needs to drive back to Beijing ASAP, and that’s when trouble rears its ugly head. One part The Road Warrior and one part The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, this spaghetti Western via the Coen Brothers is a black comedy of errors from the director who brought us festival favorite Crazy Racer a couple of years ago. And you weren’t supposed to ever see it. Shot in 2009, it was the biggest film of director Ning Hao’s career, capping his rise from arthouse favorite to director of blockbuster comedies like Crazy Stone and Crazy Racer, but it ran afoul of Chinese censors and was shelved. But last year it popped up four years after its scheduled release, and went on to earn a huge amount of money at the box office. Savage, cynical satire, it’s a savvy indictment of the dog-eat-dog capitalism that’s currently eating China (and America) alive.