This is the first Zhang Yimou film I have seen, and I am as much impressed by its technique - dark and single tones to distinguish between the backdrop and the characters - as I am about its attempts to remake the old theme of a love triangle gone bad in an earlier block-buster "Blood Simple". While similar plots appear in many other movies in terms of creating an involved arrangement where a cuckold husband tries to have his unfaithful wife and lover eliminated by a third party only to have it blow up in his face, this one offers us the Chinese rural version. Set in an earlier century, in a remote northern province where the landscape is both barren and hostile, the director makes this tale into something truly nasty in its actions and lethal in its outcomes. This movie is loaded with hate, vengeance, fury, cunning, and a small measure of poetic justice in the end to save it from becoming a complete downer. At the heart of this production is Zhang Yimou's belief that women are definitely at a serious disadvantage in a chauvinistic world where even the law and its enforcers are against them. That doesn't mean that they can't fight back when the opportunity presents itself, even if it be through acquiring the skill of firing a pistol under perilous circumstances. The males in this movie come across as being overconfident, somewhat stupid, and not very clear-thinking, which leads to some very funny moments in what can only be described as black comedy with plenty of slapstick or silliness.