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A Touch of Sin – Arrow Films (BluRay) 
Written by: on September 15th, 2014

Theatrical Release Date: China, 2013
Director: Zhangke Jia
Writer: Zhangke Jia
Cast: Zhangke Jia, Wu Jiang, Lanshan Luo, Li Meng, Baoqiang Wang, Jia-yi Zhang, Tao Zhao

BluRay released: September 15th, 2014
Approximate running time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM 5.1 Mandarin
Subtitles: English
BluRay Release: Arrow Films
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £11.00 (UK)

The plot revolves around four individuals living in four different provinces who are all driven to violent extremes. The first character is a miner is who is fed up with the corruption in his village and when no one listens to him he is forced to an aggressive stance against those threatening his livelihood. The second character is a migrant worker who discovers a new found confidence when he realizes the power of having a firearm. The third character is a woman who works at a sauna who is pushed over the edge by a perverted client who won’t take no for an answer. The fourth character is a young man who aimlessly goes from one job to the next until the moment of realization hits him that things are never going to get better.

At the core of this film is a bleak look at modern day China were themes like corruption, adultery, loneliness, alienation are explored with the utmost clarity. And though there are four separate protagonists, at the end of each one of their stories it becomes crystal clear that their stories are bound together by their need to regain the dignity from those who have been oppressing them.

Right from the get go this film establishes a tone of violence that runs throughout. With that being said, though these moments of bloodletting are sure to be the ones that most viewers will latch onto due to their shock value. There is so much more going on during these moments then just random acts of violence.

Out of the four stories which make up this film the first one involving a minor is easily the strongest of the four stories. It is also the most violent in tone as he spends the final moments wandering around town moving down anyone who gets in his way with his shotgun. And in the middle of this bloodbath he walks by a man sadistically whipping his horse and not liking what he is seeing he puts the man out of his misery and sets the horse free.

The weakest of these four tales is the second one involving migrant worker who obsession with his new found toy, a gun turns him into a cold blooded killer with no real motivate for what he is doing. Where the other three protagonists have much more satisfying conclusions to their journeys.

The last two stories would fall in between the other two quality wise. And though both deal with characters in love with someone who can’t ultimately love them back. The evolution of their plight and their moments of truth couldn’t be farther apart. With the slight edge going to the final story because of the tragic ending of its protagonist. Also the film open and closes which two scenes which kind of bookend everything together.

From a production stand point the visuals are first rate and the entire cast deliver exceptional performances. With this film’s standout performances coming from Wu Jiang (Let the Bullets Fly) in the role of Dahai, the protagonist from the first story and Lanshan Luo in the role of Xiao Hui, the protagonist from the second story. Another performance of note is Li Meng (The Guillotines) in the role of a sex worker that Xiao Hui falls in love with. Overall A Touch of Sin is a gripping drama that deeply resonates long after its final hand is revealed.

The BluRay:

A Touch of Sin comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Flesh tones look accurate, colors look nicely saturated and when they need too vibrant. Black levels fare well, details look crisp throughout and there are nor issues with DNR or compression.

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM 5.1 mix in Mandarin and English subtitles have also been included with this release. The audio sounds great as dialog comes through with crystal clarity and everything sounds balanced. Also there is a tremendous amount of range and depth with audio mix as the numerous gun shots have the appropriate amount of bite and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.

Extras are limited to trailers that play before the main menu loads. And the main menu only has two options, play film or chapter selection. Overall A Touch of Sin gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Arrow Films.

Note: This film is also being released by Arrow Films on DVD.

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