* Spoilers are included below. Don't read beyond the first paragraph if you haven't and want to watch the film.
Simply because it's been hailed as a good remake of the Coen Brothers' 1985 'Blood Simple', we watched Zhang Yimous's 2010 'A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop' (三槍拍案驚奇). Yes, in Mandarin. The man survived rather well on subtitles whereas I enjoyed the full flavor of the language.
In this different setting, the plot follows closely to the Coen Brothers' tale. The Chinese re-telling frames the story beautifully with its setting and rather interesting characters who are merrily killed off. However, the dark humor in Blood Simple doesn't come through in this remake. In fact, the humor is quite obviously different. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It was with great relief that before midway through the movie, the initial slapstick content was pared down and narrowed into very little conversation among the characters and the storytelling shone through.
The landscape is stunning. The desolate hills near the Great Wall's Jiayu Pass (嘉峪关) in Gansu beat the western backdrop of Texas town anyday. The desert lends such a different flavor to the film and the endless possibilities and imagery conjured. For one, the colors in the Chinese film are a lot brighter and cheerier than in the western.
I didn't watch the Chinese film to compare and contrast it to the English original. I watched it for Zhang Yimou as I've always been rather fond of his vision in his films. I was also curious to see his take on Blood Simple in another context and made for, perhaps, another audience.
This Chinese remake is splattered with Zhang Yimou's trademark art direction in every scene. It's so purposeful. We're glad to have set aside time to go catch this film. It's rather enjoyable.