Neo realism meets neon noir in WILD GOOSE LAKE, a slow burn crime story set in the modern seedy sub-urban so called “second tier” towns of mainland China.
WILD GOOSE LAKE starts with a clandestine meet between a man and a woman that takes its cue from countless Cold War movies, with a rendezvous between a man and a woman that is coy and conspiratorial, a you can’t see round corners on rain slick streets and sidewalks scenario, with cigarette smoke, shadows and staccato speech.
Cut to a scene set in a motorcycle larceny school, bikes, and especially their batteries, being the most lucrative booty of contraband bartering for thieving gangs in the district.
The tutorial in bike thievery suddenly erupts into a brawl instigated by turf war ructions as rival gang members marshal their martial arts to a brutal bit of biffo.
Gangster Zhou, in fear of his life after escaping the melee, unwittingly fatally shoots a policeman, and so he becomes a fugitive from both law and the outlaws.
Which brings us back to the opening scene, where the femme fatale has been tasked to broker a surrender of sorts. She’s a “bathing beauty”, euphemism for prostitute whose beat is Wild Goose Lake, a resort for rorters and root rats.
But who is she bringing him in for? The mob, the cops or his destitute wife?
Director Diao Yi’nan uses flash back to create an intricate web of double cross and triple guess in a flashy neon lit and rain slick world of secrets and secretions.
Ge Hu stars as the enigmatic Zhou, a Brando McQueen channeler, while Lun-Mei Kwei as the “bathing beauty” Liu Aiai is a quintessential queen of cool.
Chock full of style and substance, WILD GOOSE LAKE is sexually explicit and violently graphic – your view of punting and umbrellas will be challenged- and at times resembles a wild goose chase, but there’s no denying it’s a compelling crime caper of cat and mouse that also offers a glimpse of contemporary China.