"Burned wings" by Zheng Kuo: gangsta-slapstick-low-budget-dark-knight


"Burned wings" by Zheng Kuo: gangsta-slapstick-low-budget-dark-knight



Standing exception of this 10th edition of China Independent Film Festival, "Burned Wings" by Zheng Kuo came to Nanjing after the confirmation received from Beijing Film Festival (where it won the Award for Outstanding Dramatic Film). As a matter of fact, this independent film (where "independence" does not compulsorily means to be experimental), has enhanced the Festival's program with a pleasant and sparkling language that led the public into the colourful world of Yang Xiaoming; a world made by chicken wings, chases, cool music and sea landscapes.

Zheng Kuo comes from documentary, after two interesting and well-known productions about 798 artistic area in Beijing. He then found himself seeking for something that would allow him to express the idealism he pursues normally.

shooting scene

Therefore, he landed in this northeaster part of China, Hulu Island, where he created some gangsters skirmishes among characters, who still have took inspiration from the daily life, due to their fallibility and their arguable intentions. No better way to sum it up: that T-shirt, which will last in the public's eyes for a while, split in a YES-front against a back-NO, perfectly gets the point. Although Yang Xiaoming is a bad guy, since manages his daily life by violence and revenge, and gets respect no matter how, he revels himself to be the one with the straightest probity: the only one who money were never able to buy. Listen carefully to his tattoos claims: "Things work out if one only trusts (心诚则灵)".

Yang's story bid a post-modern melting-pot of genres, which recreate not only a gangster movie in perfect Chinese style, but even a partial slapstick comedy, some love stories between people at the fringes, loyalty among brothers, all painted by a black humour and grotesque shot.

Brother Yang and his three fellows are eager to find a way to better provide to themselves and their girlfriends. Unfortunately, the quickest strategy seems to be a kind of criminality mixed up with punishing actions in a Robin-Hood-style. It seems that theirs, it is just a way to survive and react to daily unmerciful life, even though some of them are more predisposed to get into troubles. Alas, they firstly bump into a rival gang, then a corrupted policeman, then a corrupted real estate business man, and then everything just turn into a nightmare, until the very last bloody revenge.

Burned wings still

Made with 220.000 Yuan, Zheng Kuo's first feature seems to be a blockbuster comparing to some other proposal filmed in financial straits. Nevertheless, precisely considering the budget invested, the product is highly ranked: nevertheless, we can still understand there was a propensity for cinematography department rather than sound department, which sometimes pays by a lack of clearness. Possibly, due to the different production difficulties the crew has experienced (but, it could say that it is part of the game). The connection with the public is never lost, since the alternation of languages and themes vitalizes the attention; at the same time, the film is still able to convey some meaningful assessments, which criticizes the current society which led people to their worst side.

Burned wings still

Considering this, it is definitely unavoidable to praise the contribution done by the director of photography Sun Yang. The whole movie is qualified by bright lights and fully saturated colours; as the same characters lives, Sun Yang's camera stuck in front of the faces, temporise on details, reaffirms the value of the choice when it comes to face crossroads. And it is likewise unavoidable to mention the top sequence, which it will surely capsize people on the seats: no better result would have ever had the first chase that Yang and his boys put on show. Introduced by a pulp-thriller camera-follow, the punitive operation goes from a sauna to some thermal baths, diving bravely up and down in the water, running and slipping, while the blood mixes with the perfumed steams and gilds the floor: the bad guys end prompting their enemy to run along a suspension bridge, traffic lights up his nudity and neons flash the spectators' laugh. There were no needs to involve any stunts, the scene acts so really, to the point that any impressionable audience would feel sorry for them.

Zheng Kuo's film is the proof that it does exist a middle way between independent movie which considers themselves strictly experimental and against the tide, and disengaged productions that have available huge and inconceivable budgets. His film shows that it is possible to deal with meanings and second level valid messages, without scaring the public with over-affordable length or impracticable narration. At the same time, there is no need to point out this first feature as a quick way to cosy up mainstreamers: if you follow the line, Yang Xiaoming warns all those power-holders about his revenge, which comes at the end of the story. Do not be mislead by the Yes-No T-shirt: Yang is not a man who would ever bow his head.


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《南风》Burned wings

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