Once Zhang Yimou was the enfant terrible of Chinese cinema. Partnered with muse Gong Li, he also put the country back on the cinematic map with chromatic morality plays like Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern. Then he turned his skills at mise en scene and choreography to the wushu genre and made his way back into official favor with Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. It culminated in his most lavish production—the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.
So good on him for taking yet another left turn and remaking the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple. The Dan Hedaya character is now a noodle shop owner eking out a living at the desert fringes in Gansu. Oh, and we’re in medieval Gansu rather than contemporary Texas. Sick of being made a cuckold, Ni Dahong hires a cop to kill his adulterous wife Yan Ni (“The Queen of Charm”). Things do not pan out as planned. Will it work? Let’s just say that we don’t remember a cannon in the original.