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A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop | 2009 | R | - 2.7.4

The owner of a noodle shop in the Gobi Desert (Ni Hadong) plans to murder his philandering wife (Yan Ni) and her lover (Xiao Shenyang), while at the same time, his wife buys a large pistol. And when the husband bribes a police officer (Sun Honglei) to kill the adulterous couple, the officer may have a plan of his own. Also with Chen Ye. Directed by Zhang Yimou. In Chinese with English subtitles. [1:40]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A belly dancer appears briefly with a weapons merchant during a sales pitch, wearing an outfit that exposes her abdomen and bare arms; she points to a product, slinks her hips once and walks out of the scene (the merchant makes 3 comments about big guns, and flashes a big smile, so these may be sexual references). Three men wear loose, flowing jackets that occasionally bare their chests and abdomens.
 A husband forces his wife to recline with her hands tied behind her back and her face through a hole in a screen painting, where he cut out the face of a young boy; he sits behind her, announcing that he paid a lot of money for her, but her womb is worthless and cannot lay eggs and he places his face on her hip briefly.
 A police officer reports that he has found evidence of adultery in a noodle shop carriage and the owner slams a desk with his hand and replies, "How dare they do it in my carriage!" A police officer arrives at a noodle shop and states that he arrests adulterous people; he calls another officer forward and asks if anyone in the noodle shop looks like an adulterer.
 A woman flirts with a police officer by flashing a large smile and batting her eyes; he ignores her and points to four people in portable stocks.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - Sitting across a desk, a man takes a pistol from his sash and shoots another man in the abdomen (blood drips from the man's body and onto the floor in a close up, and we later see congealed blood on his abdomen).
 An arrow shoots through a window and into a man's back, protruding from his stomach, and with some blood; a woman screams, as three more arrows strike a wall and a wooden pillar (she dodges them and hides).
 A man punches through a door's window and reaches for the lock; a woman hiding behind the door pins his hand to the door with a pair of scissors, shoots him in the midsection through the door, and he falls off a balcony, crashing to the floor on his back.
 A man with a sword is hiding in the room with a safe, grabs a length of chain and strangles another man from behind (he drops the body to the floor), steals everything in the safe and pulls the man up the stairs (he finds a bloody tooth on a step and puts it into the corpse's mouth).
 A presumably dead man mumbles, sits up, and draws a pistol on another man who's burying him; the other man takes away the gun, which misfires loudly and the first man screams and falls dead. A man finds another man shot dead in a basement and there's blood on the floor; he screams several times.
 A husband runs to a carriage, shouting at his wife and a man inside about their adultery, drags her out on to the ground, and punches and slaps her several times; the other man intervenes and is also punched, and the woman retrieves a pistol and points it at her husband, who sneers and walks away.
 A man ties the hands of his wife behind her back and she lies on her side behind a panting; he takes his smoking pipe and presses the lit end onto her abdomen as she whimpers and screams, and then shouts, "This will be the last time that you abuse me!"
 A man carries a body to the desert, where he finds an open shallow grave by falling in it, and he places the body in the hole and begins to shovel dirt. A man buries a body in a grave and he digs in a desert at night. A man reports that he found evidence of a woman's adultery and gives her husband two bloody scarves as evidence that he killed the couple. After being burned by a hot pipe, we see a woman with a man who uses a large pin to open blisters on her abdomen and cover them with ointment.
 A man has a waking vision in which another man crashes through a doorway with a large curved sword, screaming and swinging it at his head. A woman dreams that she sees her dead husband sitting at her desk with grave dirt sliding off his head; the man turns and shouts at her that she cannot divorce him.
 A merchant demonstrates how to use a sword and pistols in a noodle shop, swinging the sword over the heads of the workers; he fires one pistol out the door with a loud bang, he fires a large canon with a louder bang through the open door, and he picks up another pistol and tells a woman buyer that it is very powerful and that when fired someone must die. Loud gunshots are heard off-screen during the opening credits.
 A woman beats a wooden icon of her husband with a long smoking pipe until the picture breaks, and later says, "If I can't kill him, I'll kill myself." A man says that moose are going to die, and that because a gun is so powerful, when fired at a moose the bullet always goes through and kills a man as well. A husband bribes a police officer to kill his adulterous wife and her male friend. Four noodle shop workers intermittently argue with one another about business and their salaries throughout the film. A man asks a woman the real reason for her buying a gun and she replies, "For fun."
 A merchant makes three bullets. A retinue of patrolling police offices on horseback in the Gobi Desert carries swords, long iron arrows, and an eerie wind-blown siren. Noodle shop employees twirl handle-less rolling pins as if they are martial arts batons, but do not hit anyone while making noodles. A man carries scissors with him as a weapon, but never uses them.
 A man squats down behind a rock wall, suggesting defecation; we hear flies buzzing, suggesting a pile of excrement, but we see nothing. A woman finds a piece of a coworker's shoe in a basement beside a safe; she screams, shakes, cries, hurriedly packs her things, and runs away into the desert.


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LANGUAGE 4 - 5 sexual references, 2 scatological references, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (junk, slut, mean, Persian, piece of work, wimp), stereotypical references to (women, noodle shop employees, bosses, bungling and corrupt police officers, Persian merchants, Chinese price haggling), 2 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - A man shows a large wine jar to a police officer but no one drinks, and a woman drinks two large bowls of wine that dribble down her chin (we later see the woman asleep and snoring beside an empty wine bowl). A police officer lights a long pipe with a flint stone and takes two puffs that produce several clouds of white smoke, and a man lights a long pipe and takes several puffs that produce large clouds of white smoke.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - China, marriage, purchasing brides, abuse, fidelity, revenge, bribery, murder, consequences, justice.

MESSAGE - Plotting murder can get you killed.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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