Review: A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP
Zhang Yimou, the Chinese director acclaimed for his arthouse martial arts epics (HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) has followed up directing the Olympic opening ceremonies with a broad period farce in his newest, A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP, a mostly faithful remake of Joel and Ethan Coen’s BLOOD SIMPLE (1984). The Coen’s debut thriller evidently impressed Zhang, who’s turned that story into a film that’s highly stylized but pointless. There’s been many American remakes of Asian movies but a Chinese redo of a Hollywood movie doesn’t come around often and I wish A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP had been a better one.
Wang (Ni Dahong) is the proprietor of a noodle shop in a Chinese desert sometime around the 15th century. He’s abusive to his wife Li and when he discovers that she’s having an affair with a not-too-bright employee, he hires the sinister, expressionless Zhang (Sun Hoglei) to kill them both in exchange for a considerable sum of money. There’s no point in a further synopsis since as A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP progresses, it becomes more faithful to its source and anyone reading this knows that the Coen Brothers classic is all about the plot twists, double-crossings. and grave-diggings (and if you haven’t seen BLOOD SIMPLE, what the hell is wrong with you?!)
Though A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE starts out as a spoof of spaghetti westerns (specifically Leone’s DUCK YOU SUCKER), Yimou has basically remade BLOOD SIMPLE as a comedy. The very broad type of Chinese culture comedy loaded with crossed eyes, buck teeth, comic brawls and shrieking pratfalls. Asian audiences might eat this up and it certainly has a certain kinetic energy, but this reviewer found the goofy hijinks quickly tiresome and lost in translation. While BLOOD SIMPLE certainly had its share of dark humor, it was still basically a menace-laced thriller and the door-slamming slapstick of this remake is at odds with what made the original work. A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE is expertly made with its impressive, oversaturated color scheme and beautiful photography, but it’s frustratingly tame and bloodless, and ultimately comes off more as an exercise than a full-blooded movie.
2 of 5 Stars