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Blind Shaft (2003)

Qiang Li , Baoqiang Wang , Yang Li  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Qiang Li, Baoqiang Wang, Shuangbao Wang, Jing Ai, Zhenjiang Bao
  • Directors: Yang Li
  • Writers: Yang Li
  • Producers: Yang Li, Lv Jianmin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino
  • DVD Release Date: August 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPIJG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,001 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Blind Shaft" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In modern Northwestern China, itinerant coal miners Tang and Song place a cash price on human life in a world where humanity has been deemed utterly worthless. The two homicidal grifters perversely turn the tables on a corrupt system of unregulated mines and negligent owners by befriending fellow minders, murdering them in staged "accidents," then passing their victims off as relatives in order to pocket their employer's hush money. But Tang and Song's ironic crime wave threatens to self-destruct after they recruit Feng, a naive young farm boy. Though merely fresh meat to Tang, Feng awakens long dormant sentiments in Song that threaten to drive a wedge between the two killers. Together, the three men's journey becomes a treacherous on-way descent into nerve shattering confrontation and brutally poetic justice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected. October 23, 2004
I was expecting a heavy-handed preachy film about the tough lives of miners. How wrong I was. This film about two serial-murdering con men opens with the killing of their latest victim, we then watch as one man pretends to be a grieving relative while the other skillfully negotiates the bereavement payout with the mining company, which recongizes the con but is too mired in bureaucracy to care. Later, after sending the bulk of their "earnings" home and spending the rest on prostitutes, they spot their next "relative" like predatory hawks in the sky, and descend for the kill instinctively. What happens after is supposed to be textbook for them, but traces of humanity spring up to surprise all. This last section could have turned melodramatic, but the well-researched script never allowed us to feel anything less than real. Add to that the sure handed direction, claustrophobic hand-held photography, efficient editing, and capable performances all fit together perfectly. You really couldn't ask for more from a movie. It's easy to see why La Mexicaine de Perforation would want to screen this, since it was an underground (without government approval) film about the the underground, and the fact that it's so good probably didn't hurt either.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars utterly unique serial killer film February 14, 2005
Written and directed by Yang Li, "Blind Shaft" provides us with a fascinating twist on the serial killer scenario. In most such films, the killer is usually relegated to the role of a shadowy antagonist whose basic function is to allow a brilliant investigator to outwit and outsmart him and bring him to justice in time for the closing credits. Not so in "Blind Shaft." For here the killers themselves take center stage and there isn't a single law officer in sight to foil the plan or mitigate our fear about what is going to happen.

Song and Yuan are two struggling Chinese laborers who've come upon an ingenious but grizzly scheme to make money. They befriend a stranger who is desperate for employment and convince him to come work with them in a nearby mine. All he has to do is agree to pass himself off as a relative of one of the two men. When they have their unsuspecting victim alone in the mine shaft, Song and Yuan cold-bloodedly murder him, claiming that the death was the result of a mining accident. Eager to avoid a scandal, the boss of the mine invariably pays a generous sum of money to the dead man's "relatives," whereupon Song and Yuan take their ill-gotten gains, lure another man into their trap, and head off to another mine to repeat the scenario.

What separates "Blind Shaft" from so many American tales about serial killers is that Song and Yuan are not portrayed as writhing, eye-rolling, hand-rubbing psychopaths, devising elaborate schemes to torture their victims and antagonize the authorities. Rather, these two killers approach their "business" in the most banal, matter-of-fact (i.e. "businesslike") way imaginable, making them all that much more chilling and believable. We feel we really could encounter people like these in our own lives.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior filmmaking January 3, 2005
Li Yang, writer/director of Blind Shaft, is a Chinese documentary filmmaker who, in this film, turned to features and with superior results. In a revealing and powerful essay he himself wrote for the release of this film on DVD, found in the DVD case insert, he talks about how grueling it was to make it.

The story of two murdering grifters with mining experience--enough to get them jobs in any one of hundreds of mines that sprang up after the demise of the Communist economy in mainland China--Blind Shaft pulls no punches in portraying the day-to-day existence of dirt-poor, working class men and women who scrabble for a living, waiting in the streets of the city, the village, the town, for work to come along. These two, Tang and Song, have developed a vicious plan to make money--find a poor, unsuspecting man, have him pose as the nephew or cousin of one of them, take the man with them to the next mine that needs workers, descend the shaft into the mine, kill the third man and make it look like a mine cave-in, then, in essence, blackmail the mine owner into paying funeral and related expenses to the two of them for the "accident".

The editing in the film is what sets this apart from many other films. The filmmaker, one can tell, is a master editor, absolutely brilliant. There's not one wasted shot, not one extraneous cinematic moment. The story is lean and mean, and so is the editing. Interestingly enough, this is, as well, reflected in the acting; Yang used mostly non-professionals to portray the characters in the film. This lends the work a jarring realism that one wonders would be there had he used professionals.

When Tang and Song recruit a 16-year old, Feng, as their next victim, things do not go exactly as planned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern Chinese Chaucerian Tale October 1, 2006
Judging from the opening credits of Blind Shaft, Li Yang obviously isn't troubled by an excess of modesty: 'Li Yang Presents/a Li Yang Production/Presented by Li Yang/a Li Yang film' - and that's not counting his credits on the end titles. I don't think I've seen anyone credit themselves so many times since Eddie Murphy's infamous Harlem Nights ('Eddie Murphy Productions presents An Eddie Murphy production of an Eddie Murphy film - Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights Written by Eddie Murphy, Produced by Eddie Murphy, Directed by Eddie Murphy' - and that's by no means a comprehensive list). Luckily Li Yang isn't short of the talent to back up that kind of effrontery: this is easily one of the best films I've seen this century.

An almost Chaucerian tale set in the kind of China you don't see in the tourist brochures or even the average Chinese movie, the premise is simple: Li Yixiang and Wang Shuangbao go round the primitive coal mines in the provinces selecting a new itinerant worker to murder in a fake accident so that they can blackmail the mine owner into paying them compensation to hush it up and not file a report with the Party or the police. After all, "China has a shortage of everything but people." What's most surprising is the characterisation of the two sociopathic conmen, all-too recognisably human, primarily concerned with the future and education of their own children in an increasingly market-led economy. In many ways they're no worse than the corrupt mine owners who would happily kill them to hush up a scandal if paying off the police weren't three times as expensive: both are utterly indifferent to those who die to make them a little bit richer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Socially engaged and controversial portrayal of Chinese wildcat coal...
Great film by one of China's finest directors and social critics, Li Yang. Banned in Beijing, this could not be legally screened under the extremely restrictive censorship... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Harvy Lind
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Teevee Barbela
5.0 out of 5 stars Working class vultures
A very bleak story. Two miners are teaming together to entrap a young teenager, underage if possible, on the run for any reason whatsoever into coming to work with them... Read more
Published on September 12, 2010 by Jacques COULARDEAU
5.0 out of 5 stars Hyper-Capitalism Does China...
You'll get all the plot info for Blind Shaft on the article's webpage.

But it's misleading to stress the narrative alone (which is only incidental), for the real point... Read more
Published on August 23, 2009 by B.E.F.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ugly Little Lump of Coal from China
Having just seen this film, I was startled that such a bleak and dark film about contemporary life made its way past the Chinese censors. Read more
Published on December 30, 2008 by Yongsoo Park
5.0 out of 5 stars compare to Harlan County
I just saw Barbara Kopple's highly esteemed documentary Harlan County about a coal miner's strike, and kept thinking that Blind Shaft presented many of these same subjects in... Read more
Published on July 12, 2008 by Robert Nagle
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind Shaft
Filmed in actual Chinese mines, this bleak moral fable has as much to say about worker exploitation and the hardscrabble lives of China's population as it does the attitude of the... Read more
Published on July 18, 2007 by John Farr
4.0 out of 5 stars Part murderous crime story, part social commentary. A well-done,...
Blind Shaft is just about as bleak, dry and cold as the North Chinese coal mines in winter where the story is set. The film is part crime drama, part social commentary. Read more
Published on June 26, 2006 by C. O. DeRiemer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Blind Shaft.
Welcome to modern day China, a land turned ruthlessly capitalistic, providing fertile breeding ground for con-men who go the extra mile, ruthlessly. Read more
Published on February 23, 2006 by Frank Rheins
4.0 out of 5 stars Evokes a stark picture of modern China
What happened at the start of this movie down in the mine shaft confused me so much I had to go back to the scene and view it again. Read more
Published on February 17, 2006 by Dennis Littrell
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