There's a natural authenticity to the film that makes it intensely watchable, even though it's repetitive and slightly underwritten. Several characters just refuse to speak, leaving infuriating gaps in the story and dialog, which lead to misunderstandings and more serious problems. (Does anyone really behave like this outside the movies?) Where it works best is in the desperate central characters, nicely played by young actors who effortlessly highlight the contrast between the hardworking, single-minded, seriously intimidated outsider Guei and the more sophisticated, pushy, devious Jian. The side characters fare less well; they're underdefined and mainly there for symbolic or plot-spurring purposes only. But the feel of the city is terrific--colourful and vibrant, heaving with bicycles and yet finely focussed on this specific one upon which so much depends.
dir Wang Xiaoshuai
scr Wang Xiaoshuai, Tang Danian, Peggy Chiao, Hsu Hsiao-Ming
with Cui Lin, Li Bin, Zhou Xun, Gao Yuanyuan, Li Shuang, Zhao Yiwei, Pang Yan, Zhou Fangfei, Xie Jian, Ma Yuhong, Liu Lei, Li Mengnan
release US 25.Jan.02; UK 28.Jun.02
Vulnerable. Country bumpkin Guei (Cui) finds himself naked in the city - delivering a package to a bath house
|I.M., Chicago: "Although a bit awkward, the movie beautifully forms the essential journey of a young man. I appreciated it as I wish others will." (19.May.04)