No Man’s Land

Wu ren qu

A smart, blackly hilarious, and gleefully unhinged homage to the Spaghetti Western from Ning Hao.

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  • Director Ning Hao
  • Producers Sanping Han, Haicheng Zhao
  • Screenwriters Ning Hao, Shu Ping, Xing Aina
  • With Xu Zheng, Yu Nan, Huang Bo, Duo Bujie
  • China 2013
  • 117 mins
  • Production company ChinaFilm Co.

In the north-western deserts of China, Pan Xiao, a smug big city lawyer is forced to represent a dangerous crime boss in a dustbowl town of lowlifes and wasters. Having successfully won the case, Pan Xiao embarks on his long drive home across the harsh terrains of the Gobi, but a series of mishaps and encounters with some unsavoury folk see him plunge headlong into a farcical nightmare from which he may never escape. Shot in 2009 but delayed following censorship problems, Ning Hao’s madcap apocalyptic neo-Western at long last sees the light of day. Thankfully, it was well worth the wait. A giddy concoction of Mad Max meets Sergio Leone, with a hint of the Coen Brothers thrown in for good measure, this anarchic romp is a violent, often hilarious homage to the spaghetti western, imaginatively realised and overflowing with wild action and black humour.

Michael Blyth