Lan Xin Da Ju Yuan
2019 / 126m - China
Saturday Fiction poster


May 10, 2021


Ye Lou's take on film-noir. It's a bit of a surprise to see him do an almost straight-up genre film, though his can't quite leave his arthouse aesthetics behind. While that sounds interesting on paper, the result is not as slick as I would've hoped, with the action/crime elements in particular feeling out of place.

Jin is an actress who works as an undercover agent for the people of Shanghai. She discovers Japan's plan to attack Pearl Harbor, but her life gets a lot more complicated when the Japanese try to get Jin on their team. Romance, betrayal, shady figures in dark allies, all the usual noir elements are present here.

The cast is exceptional (with Gong Li and Joe Odagiri leading the pack) and the blue/gray monochrome filter looks attractive enough, but the cinematography feels a little lazy, the action doesn't translate, and the films runs a little too long. One of Lou's weaker efforts, a shame considering how great The Shadow Play was.