Dahai is a miner so fed up with the corruption all around him that he decides to take up arms. San’er is a migrant worker quick to understand the benefits of carrying a weapon. Xiaoy works reception at a sauna where the clientele’s galling behaviour pushes her to wits’ end. And 19-year-old Xiaohui struggles to survive from one dehumanizing job to the next. A Touch of Sin introduces these characters one by one as it travels through four disparate regions of China. The astonishing new work by virtuoso filmmaker Jia Zhang ke (24 City, Still Life) draws on genres as diverse
as Western, wuxia film (the title is a reference to King Hu’s classic A Touch of Zen), crime film, comedy and documentary to issue a stern condemnation of contemporary Chinese society, demoralized and weakened by rampant neo-liberalism. Awarded best screenplay at Cannes this year, A Touch of Sin tackles head-on the violence of the world and the toll it takes on citizens. Precise and powerfully evocative, it builds inexorably to a climax that leaves us breathless and overwhelmed.