Blood Over Simplified

Now available on Blu ray and DVD:

A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP (Dir. Yimou Zhang, 2009)

Director Yimou Zhang (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, HERO) counts the Coen brothers’ 1984 debut BLOOD SIMPLE as one of his favorite films, but this crude “re-imagining” really doesn’t properly pay homage to the cult crime classic.

The basic elements of BLOOD SIMPLE, one of my favorite films too, are here transported to a noodle shop in the Chinese desert with Yan Ni, Ni Dahong , and Xiao Shenyang in the roles previously played by Frances McDormond, Dan Hedaya, and John Getz respectively.

The old mean Dahong owns the noodle shop, and just like in the original his wife (Ni) is cheating on him with one of his employees (Shenyang). Dahong hires a policeman (Sun Hunglei in the M. Emmett Walsh part) to kill the young lovers.

There are very few laughs in this film and it tries way to hard to get them. Slapstick replaces the original’s dark humor, and while Xiaoding Zhao’s cinematography has a lot of visual style, the film is sorely lacking in the wit department.

One of the major problems is with the emptiness of the characters. In BLOOD SIMPLE McDormond was a frail frightened woman who genuinely loved Getz, but here Ni in the same part is a shrewd conniving gold digger. It’s not an improvement because she’s just another despicable character in a film full of despicable characters.

Likewise Shenyang in the Getz role – the character’s strength is replaced by a trembling Jar Jar-ish oafishness and it’s painful to watch.

I’m not even gonna go into how Dahong and Hunglei come nowhere near Hedeya’s and Walsh’s masterfully sleazy performances.

Give me a character I can care about, Zhang!

If you haven’t seen BLOOD SIMPLE – by all means go out and get a copy of the DVD. I’m a Coen brothers connoisseur so I’m a bit biased, but it’s a film noir masterpiece that, like just about all of their films, holds up to repeated viewings.

There’s nothing noir about A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP.Sometimes the only good thing about a remake is that they stir up fond memories of the original film.

That sure is the only good thing about this one.

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