Chinese Coen brothers remake thrills Berlin festival

Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:43am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Chinese remake of the American thriller "Blood Simple" probably could not have been made two decades ago because of restrictions on filmmakers at the time, director Zhang Yimou said on Sunday.

The Chinese director said he was a huge fan of the 1985 neo-noir crime film by the Coen brothers about murder and infidelity ever since seeing it at a festival.

Zhang told a news conference after his film "San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi" ("A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop") had an enthusiastic reception at the Berlin Film Festival that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote him to say they enjoyed his entertaining version.

"It certainly was much more restricted 20 years ago," Zhang said. "As a director you couldn't do what you wanted. You had to think about what kind of story you could tell. China is opening up."

He added: "There's a lot of diversity now, a lot of genres. It's not like 10 or 20 years ago when Chinese cinema was very, very restricted. Now there are lots of directors with different styles. For me this was an attempt at a new genre. The market for this particular film genre is certainly there."

Zhang's film is set in the imperial age in a desert town near Jiayu Pass not far from the Great Wall. An unpleasant middle-aged man named Wang runs a noodle shop with his wife and their staff.

Wang learns his wife is having an affair with a shy cook and arranges to have them both killed.

The hit man ends up shooting Wang after collecting his fee and then becomes entangled in the story, which includes hilarious attempts to dispose of dead bodies.   Continued...