No Man's Land

No Man's Land ★★★★

Ning Hao's absurdist, mad-cap comedic sensibility steeped in the pitch black immorality and nihilism of neo-noir with a distinctly Coen-esque tone in its story of craven, ruthless characters caught in a mutually destructive spiral. The film is a startling, brute force satire fueled by a deeply cynical perspective on humanity in modern China.

The film's ostensible hero, for all his moralizing and existential philosophizing, is just as petty and quick to anger as the back-woods criminals that surround him. The film's hard bitten morality only allows for incremental salvation, no one can truly be saved (aside from a tacked on saccharine epilogue) their only hope is in sacrificing their interests for those of another, humanity is only possible through community.

The film's visual aesthetic is a perfect mix of the stark, dark nights and desolate roads of western neo-noirs like Blood Simple or Red Rock West and the sun scorched, dried up deserts of Leone's spaghetti westerns.