This is one of Miike's more serious efforts. If you lean more to the arthouse side of cinema, and you've been wanting to sample some Miike films, this is a pretty good place to start. Miike's usual excess is toned down but not entirely absent and the second half does show a more mature, restrained side of Miike that's missing from his more popular films.
A Japanese businessman is sent to China, where he is tasked to screen a possible jade deposit. He is joined by a Yakuza member who has to make sure the man does his job. The trip to Yun Nan is long and perilous, and while the two can't really stand each other, a bond does begin to form.
Watching the shifting dynamics between the characters is interesting, the setting is beautiful, and the second half is surprisingly restrained and stylish. The film looks a bit murky though, with colors that don't pop enough to do justice to the beauty of the Chinese countryside. A digital restoration might restore some of its former glory, but the core qualities are still there. A very good Miike, that stops just short of being a personal favorite.