Director: Jia Zhangke
Stars: Jiang Wu, Zhao Tao, Wang Baoqiang
In the war between the haves and the have-nots, don't underestimate the less blessed latter group—put someone's back against the wall, and they're liable to lash out. That's the main theme in Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke's hard-hitting A Touch of Sin, a brutal, in-your-face look at four different lower-class Chinese characters who fight back against various forms of oppression.
The most startling of the film's four stories comes from Dahai (Jiang Wu), a coal miner enraged over his presumption that his industry's leaders aren't sufficiently compensating him. It results in Dahai going on a rampage with a shotgun. A second character, a sauna receptionist who's treated like a prostitute, chooses a knife to exact her revenge. In all four chapters of A Touch of Sin, though, the outcomes are alternately shocking and profound, with Zhangke intelligently balancing action movie visuals with social analysis. The violence is brutal, and what's more, probably useless.