An elegant mandarin romantic masterpiece juxtaposing industrialism-and-free-spiritness, random violence-&-sacrifice with classical noir-isms, cinematographical bilateralism, Eastern-cultural majesty, & breakout Zhao Tao performance. 8.5/10.
An industrialized old-mining China town sees a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Qiao uses a gun to protect Bin and is sent to prison for five years.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Director ZhangKe Jia Aims To Weave A Passionate tale Of Romance, Betrayal, Mobsters, Femme Fatales, & China Crime Underworlds
Ash is Purest White. From its striking elemental name, Director ZhangKe Jia aims to weave a passionate tale of romance, betrayal, mobsters, femme-fatales, and crime underworlds – and succeeds in spectacular fashion with probably the best romance film of recent memory. A pulse-rattling, electrifying biopic is delivered upon us, doubling as a sociological study with tons to say on the nature of China’s current societal predicament,. An elegant mandarin romantic masterpiece juxtaposing industrialism-and-free-spiritness, random violence-and-sacrifice with classical noir-isms, cinematographical bilateralism, Eastern-cultural majesty, & a breakout Zhao Tao performance, Ash is Purest White is one of the most refreshing films of 2019.
The performances and romance tale. Led by Zhao Tao as Quiao the femme-fatale reminiscent of dusky film noirs of yesteryears, what starts as a sweet albeit dark relationship thriving amongst the grime of the jiaghu crime underworld turns to a self-searching introspection storyline of Greek tragic proportions when an innocent girlfriend sacrifices freedom to save her boyfriend’s life from street thugs angling to dethrone him.. only to be betrayed by him without even a phone or courtesy call later. This Victorian escalation is absolutely sensational in screenplay/screenwriting making for one of the best romantic film shells of the genre, only boosted by spectacular performances by its entire cast – especially Tao & Liao Fan’s Guo Bin.
Zhao Tao Delivers A Career Performance As Stricken Ex-Lover Quiao
Cinematographical orderliness in classically-Eastern motifs. From its found-footage bus-stop opening to backroom mahjong, stunning rice fields, and mountainous hillsides, AIPW is a sight to behold (even in albeit a comparatively-gruff found-footage camerawork stylism). Classical Asian principles shine through into these inventive shots that scream technique and locational settings full of Eastern-cultural majesty it’s again refreshing to see after this year’s other stellar foreign offering Birds of Passage now looking to be the frontrunners for top two films of the year for 2019.
Social-Consciousness Tackling Important Modern Chinese-Societal Themes
Social-consciousness tackling important modern Chinese-societal themes. Bin and Quiao rule the jianghu underworld, though have to come to terms with all the branching/evolving effects this has on them and the world around them. Bin refuses to leave and escape town to start a new life, likely out of power lust for his position and influence amongst the families that run the city. His business associate is killed by random thugs as a token gesture/joke, and he is almost slain himself as an attempted message street-underlings were trying to send him coming after his throne. It eloquently paints societal problems the filmmakers clearly want addressed and acted upon like senseless violence, amorality, and the destruction of classically Eastern values to make their beloved hometown more idyllic and idealistic than the underworld they see it as now: and that is a noble, culturally-descriptive, and realism-centric respectable way to utilize film’s transformative and information-channel capabilities without making it feel once too preachy or over-politicized treading the fine line beautifully. Bravo Jia.
Flaws are paltry in this masterful romance, but the opening is somewhat abrupt and abrasive thrusting us right into the story with little set-up, backstory, or introduction to the characters – we get to know them better later to make this point comparatively nitpicky but still at least a few minutes of past-development would have made for an even smoother transition. The pacing can also get minor-ly slow at times, but has more than enough artistic virtues to override & vigorously squash these gripes.
An Elegant Mandarin Romantic Masterpiece Juxtaposing Industrialism & Free-Spiritness, Violence & Sacrifice
Foreign Films Are Dominating 2019
Overall, Ash is Purest White is a socially-conscious tour-de-force of classical-oriental storytelling amongst the most refreshing films of 2019. An elegant mandarin romantic masterpiece juxtaposing industrialism-and-free-spiritness, random violence-and-sacrifice with classical noir-isms, cinematographical bilateralism, Eastern-cultural majesty, & a breakout Zhao Tao performance, I can only hope we keep getting treated to these stunning foreign film offerings like Roma, Birds of Passage, and AIPW throughout the rest of this year into the foreseeable future. America, step your films up.
Official CLC Score: 8.5/10