Blind Shaft (China/Germany/Hong Kong; 92 min.)

directed by: Jang Li
starring: Qiang Li; Baoqiang Wang; Shuangbao Wang
Mang Jing

Michael says: "After winning several awards at recent film festivals, including Berlin and Tribeca, this powerful film explores the dark and the light of humanity as embodied by mine workers in China. Song and Tang work the mines, but they also have an angle… one that involves murder and extortion. When they involve their latest dupe, a young man named Luan, a crisis of conscience turns their plan awry, with disastrous results. Like BEIJING BICYCLE, a tale of innocence lost, with a twist." 3 1/2 cats

Scot says: "One of my new favorite subgenres of foreign film is the Chinese dark loss-of-innocence film, so I was pretty excited to catch BLIND SHAFT. In the debut work of writer-director Li Yang, two misanthropic con men have developed a scheme to extort money from the owners of illegal Chinese coal mines by passing a desperate man off as a relative who needs work, killing him in a staged accident, and then demanding compensation for his death.

The real strength of this film is in the screenplay. Besides the uncompromising look at the state of labor in China, the film really takes its time developing all the relationships between the con men and their naive stooge. The suspense builds almost imperceptibly with occasional injections of humor and pathos along the way. By the end, I was totally involved in the drama and had no idea how the plot would resolve. But resolve, it does, and in a very satisfying manner." 4 cats