Winner, Achievement in Directing, 2011 Life in a small town is akin to journeying in the middle of the steppes: the sense that “something new…
China, 1920s. It is the Age of Warlords and the whole country is in total chaos.
Purportedly ruled by an impotent central government, corrupt and over-ambitious local military commanders surge to power, running their forces like private armies. In the countryside, innocent citizens fall victims to marauding bandits who themselves become a force to be reckoned with and, before long, a law unto themselves.
Out of this brutal world in the life is short and nasty, a man with a mysterious past strides forth. Curiously nick-named “Pocky” – for he has not a mark on his face – Zhang Muzhi is a prodigious marksman and leader of a band of outlaws known as the Mahjong Gang.
When what sets off as a regulation train robbery draws to an unintended and bloody conclusion, Zhang finds himself having to assume the identity of a dead county governor and leads his men on a journey to take charge of a southern town.
Unbeknownst to Zhang, however, the governor did not die in the raid. In a desperate attempt to survive, the governor swapped identities with one of the dead men and became, quite reluctantly, the counselor in the Zhang’s entourage.
More surprises are in store for Zhang and his intrepid gang of outlaws as they arrive to find that the town is firmly in the iron grip of Master Huang, a wealthy and ruthless local gentry, who is evidently far more than what he seems. Immediately sensing a threat from each other, Zhang and Huang lock themselves in a desperate and deadly struggle, in which both men must summon up every iota of strategy and brute strength, in an effort to remain the last man standing…
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