An Inaccurate Memoir

(China, 2012)
TK Premiere
105 minutes, DCP, in Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by: Leon Yang
Starring: Huang Xiaoming, Zhang Yi, Zhang Xinyi, Wang Lie, Sun Lei, Hiruma Yoshinori

Like an undiscovered Peckinpah Western, only set in China in 1942, AN INACCURATE MEMOIR features a gang of efficient bandits taking on overwhelming odds (a la The Wild Bunch) and it manages to play some nice games with myth-making and role-playing (a la Pat Garret and Billy the Kid). It doesn’t go as deep as Peckinpah, but it’s shot in gritty-vision with all the beautiful colors of sand, dust, desert sunset, and red clay, featuring a lot of impeccably staged action, and it is cast, shot, and written with the kind of craftsmanship and care that used to be part and parcel of Hollywood films in the 70’s.

Self-trained director Yang Shupeng begins his bandit opera in a remote Chinese city where Dong-liang, a wounded revolutionary hiding out from the occupying Japanese army witnesses a precision jail break by a gang of bandits there to rescue their leader, Fang (Chinese dreamboat, Huang Xiaoming). Impressed by the efficient way they put bullets between the eyes of a regiment of Japanese infantry, Dong-liang decides he needs their help for his upcoming assassination of the Japanese Emperor’s brother when he visits town. Disguising himself as a young and dumb nobleman, Dong-liang gets himself kidnapped, and then tortured for good measure, before proving his worth during a bank heist gone wrong, and luring the bandits into striking a blow not just for guns, guts, and glory, but for China.

With each of the bandits indelibly etched, they are a heartbreaking bunch of loners who were born to go out in a blaze of gunfire. Even the women — who are twice as dangerous as the men, hurling daggers and pulling grenades out of their garters — are destined to live hard and die young. With a black sense of humor, and an eye for action, AN INACCURATE MEMOIR is the kind of big violent film full of killer hookers, dumb lunks with hearts of gold, and slit-your-throat rascals (as well as hair-raising stunts and last minute escapes) that it feels like a snarky, sarcastic Saturday afternoon cliffhanger.

Part of the Well Go USA Spotlight

Sunday July 7, 12:30PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets