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The Robbers

February 16, 2013

Cinequest 2010


THE ROBBERS is quite the crowd pleaser.  This film has everything:  Comedy, Tragedy, political commentary, Chinese culture, beautiful feisty women, exciting battle scenes, romance, and a fabulous soundtrack (not available, to the audience’s disappointment).

Two robbers with hearts of gold come across a village in the middle of a Tang dynasty forest.  After robbing one of the village families they are forced to step in and save the same family from some soldiers who were trying to rape one of the daughters.  This sets off a domino effect of circumstances as the village chief must now hold the robbers responsible for killing a soldier – even though the robber was trying to save a villager.  There is much talk of law vs. mercy and a lot of commentary on the political and judicial systems in China.

But don’t take this to mean it is a serious, dramatic film.  The first 3/4ths of the film are very reminiscent of a BLAZING SADDLES type slapstick humor, intercut with exciting sword fights set to 300 style rock music.  The last quarter of the movie surprises with a switch to Tragedy, and then a final sweet ending to what has become clear is a great love between two friends.

Producer Cindy Lin [who went on to work on Life of Pi]came all the way from Beijing and was delighted that the black humor, which she said was heavily based in Chinese culture, seemed to translate to our American audience.  And indeed, about 75% of the audience stayed for the late night Q&A and all had huge smiles on their faces.  Her company looks for unknown talent in China and came across this director and his script – only his second film ever.  They managed to get an A-list Chinese actor to play one of the robbers, and he adjusted his fee to get this film made.  The film was positively delightful and the best I had seen this year up to that point.

I definitely suggest you do what you can to get this movie on your Must-See list.

This is one of those really sad cases where I cannot locate the film for you to see. It was absolutely outstanding. Keep a look out for it.

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