A seedy small city in Southern China is the site of a frantic scramble for a bundle of cash in this politically provocative, entertainingly cynical animated neo-noir. The pulp-fictional plot is set in motion when a low-ranking mob bagman swipes a satchel containing a million yuan in order to finance plastic surgery for his girlfriend. An assortment of hit men, opportunists, double-crossers, and smalltime dreamers follow the bag’s erratic, corpse-strewn trail as it passes from hand to hand amid a sharply etched urban wasteland of cracked walls, peeling posters, and flickering neon. The recurring image of Mao’s smiling face on bright red 100-yuan banknotes serves as an ironic reminder of how far free-market China has strayed from the Chairman’s communist ideals. It’s little wonder that nervous Chinese officials pulled the film from the prestigious Annecy Animated Film Festival, although its topical references to Brexit and Trump serve as a reminder that mercenary mindlessness is far from a local Chinese phenomenon. (Gene Siskel Film Center)
A film by Liu Jian, China, 75 min. In Mandarin with English subtitles. DCP.
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