A Touch of Sin (2013)

Either because I read some great reviews about it or someone suggested it to me, A Touch of Sin (Chinese: 天注定 Tiān zhùdìng) ended up on my watchlist a long time ago and I finally decided to watch it but, as I haven't seen any other Jia Zhangke film, I didn't know what to expect from it. 

Set in modern-day China, A Touch of Sin tells four disconnected stories about people in agony that eventually resolve in acts of violence. The first story follows Dahai (Jiang Wu), a coal miner who is just can't deal with the fact that his boss, a former schoolmate of his, got rich. The second story is about Zhou San (Wang Baoqiang), a migrant worker who goes around robbing and killing strangers. The third story revolves around Xiao Yu (Zhao Tao), a sauna receptionist who is having an affair with a married man. The fourth story is about Xiao Hui (Luo Lanshan), a young man who drifts from job to job and leaves his last job to work in a high-end sex club.

The first thing that comes in my mind as I'm writing this is that Jia Zhangke's is a very brave film as it explores some of the issues of modern-day China such as corruption, greed, crime, prostitution and exploitation in large factories. And to be honest, I'm surprised the Chinese government allowed the making of this film. 

That being said, A Touch of Sin is far from being a great film. The main problem is that is made of four different stories. The fact that there's a very loose connection between them isn't an issue, but the fact that quality-wise they are pretty uneven is. While the first story is very interesting and compelling, the others are tedious as there's not enough going on to fill a 30-minute span. And they also are a little hard to follow at times. 

Koch Lorber Films
The characters aren't equally compelling either --once again with Dahai being the most interesting-- and they lack a solid character development. Most of the actors, on the other hand, do a quite good job, Jiang Wu and Zhao Tao being the standouts. Wang Baoqiang isn't very convincing as he should have been more menacing as the professional robber. 


  1. Interesting concept but what a shame it was not executed better.

  2. I've heard a lot of things about this film as I really want to see it as I am not familiar with anything that Jia Zhangke has done.

    1. Neither was I. I'm not sure I want to see the rest of his filmography now.