A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Rated 3.0

Somewhere in the remote desert of yester-century China, the owner of a noodle shop (Ni Dahong) tries thwarting the affair between his wife (Yan Ni) and his employee (Xiao Shen-yang) by hiring a corrupt cop (Sun Honglei) to do them both in. It’s so easy to have an opinion when Americans remake Swedish vampire or hacker-goth thrillers, but how to get one’s head around a remake of the Coen brothers’ 1984 debut, Blood Simple, from the Chinese director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers? Partisans of the original probably will have a hard time with filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s strange dark farce, not least because it underlines the grating buffoonery and shrugging nihilism inherent in the original. But it also supplies enough of its own spellbinding, operatic vitality to make a case for this random knockoff as an enduring film fable.