A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding) Review

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Violence bleeds into every scene and every breath of Jia Zhangke’s latest film, A Touch of Sin. Winner of the Best Screenplay at Cannes 2013, Jia Zhangke’s prowess as a remarkable Chinese filmmaker is undisputed. His film ‘Still Life’ was the winner of the Golden Lion at the 63rd Venice Film Festival (2006).

Taking place in rural China, the film follows four separate but loosely connected scenes: a frustrated villager fighting corrupt management, a gangster who bores of small-town life, a mistress whose affair has come to an end, and a teenager in love with a prostitute. Themes and events carry through each story, weaving them together under the larger tapestry of China’s impoverished, overcrowded, and growingly violent landscape. At first blush, A Touch of Sin seems contradictory in its message. The violence is made to be both abhorrent and exhilarating, with tone switching as often as the acts themselves. We cringe at a vigilante’s justice, but we cheer for his triumph over evil. We struggle as a woman is almost raped by her attackers, but we celebrate as she butchers them with classic wuxia (martial arts film) flair.

As the scenes play out, it becomes clear that these opposite tones are actually one and the same. Zhangke’s film is a commentary on the prevalence of violence, not only in China, but within us all. He argues that inside each of us is a penchant for violence – a touch of sin – and Zhangke’s film sates this lust. We revel in its bloodshed, even as it repels us.

A Touch of Sin has already received well deserved accolades. The film is powerful and provocative, and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Nimy Leshinski

Subscribe to
Our Youtube
Subscribe to
our RSS

ETV Newsletter

Get the latest on the media landscape and the minds that create inspiring, paradigm-shifting ideas. Sign up and stay in the loop.

Follow Us
On Twitter
Visit Our
View Our
Flickr Stream
View Our
Vimeo Stream
View Us On

Advertise with Us