Manchurian Tiger


Manchurian Tiger 
 东北虎 (Dong Bei Hu)

China, 2022, 118’, Mandarin
Directed by: Geng Jun
Screenplay: Geng Jun, Liu Bing 
Photography (color): Wang Weihua
Editing: Chen Heping
Art Direction: Lan Zhiqiang
Music: Cheng Xiaoshu 
Sound: Lou Kun
Producers: Wang Zijian, Fang Qianli, Xie Meng 
Executive Producer: Zhang Xianmin
Production Companies: Blackfin Production, Rediance, Hehe Production
Cast: Zhang Yu (Xu Dong), Ma Li (Mei Ling), Zhang Zhiyong (Ma Qianli), Xu Gang, Guo Yue, Zhang Xun

Date of First Release in Territory: January 14th, 2022

Director Geng Jun is known for his auteur vision of film-making, crafting black comedies set in his hometown of Hegang in Heilongjiang, a place the director is very attached to, and where he regularly returns to visit friends and relatives. His stories are populated by anti-conformist, deranged characters, often inspired by his own friends, although the fictional universe setting in North-East China is purely from the director’s imagination. The devastation caused by the mining industry prevalent in the area is in sharp contrast to the magic of snow-covered landscapes, where winter lasts six months and the cold seems to penetrate the soul, being expelled from the body in the form of biting humour. Manchurian Tiger, which won Best Film at the Shanghai Int’l Film Festival, is no exception. The story’s protagonist, Xu Dong, was inspired by a friend Geng Jun met at a train station on Chinese New Year’s Eve; while everyone else was travelling to visit their families, Xu was on his way to avenge the death of his dog. In the film, Xu Dong (played by Zhang Yu, A Cool Fish and Dying to Survive, FEFF 2019, Back to the Wharf, FEFF 2021) is a machinist who works in a mine, has a pregnant wife, a comfortable home, a wolf dog as a companion and a surreal poet as a friend, but he also possessed a deep-seated restlessness that drives him to continually cheat on his wife Mei Ling (played by Ma Li, Never Say Die, FEFF 2018). When she suggests getting rid of the dog to prepare their home for the arrival of the new baby, Xu temporarily entrusts his pet to Zhang Ziyong, a small building contractor who has a large yard to keep the dog in. He also, unfortunately, has a mountain of debt. After some time, to appease one of his creditors, Zhang Ziyong invites him to dinner and presents Xu Dong’s dog as his main dish... When Xu Dong finds out what has happened, he swears there and then to get revenge. From that moment on, the destinies of the two men – both in crisis but for different reasons; one prey to uncontrollable passions, the other a prisoner of work and money – become entwined and they find themselves sharing a desperation that instead of driving them apart, brings them closer together. Xu Dong, frustrated by his attempts to get revenge that continually fail, gradually discovers an unknown side to Zhang Ziyong’s personality; meanwhile Mei Ling discovers her husband’s infidelity, and she too decides to take revenge...
The film, a tragicomedy rather than a black comedy, had a long gestation period by Chinese standards: the script was in preparation for six years, and the film's post-production was slowed down by the pandemic. 
The Manchurian tiger alluded to in the title, an endangered animal that is mainly metaphorical in the film, only appears in one scene at the zoo, where a grandfather tells his granddaughter: “The tiger is in a cage so we can protect, love and admire it.” This is, after all, the film’s message: each of us is like the tiger. We are all prisoners, especially of ourselves, and it could be very dangerous to leave the cage…

Geng Jun
Although he did not attend film school, Geng Jun (Heilongjiang, 1976) began his successful career in the film industry in Beijing in 2002. His films are characterised by a very personal style. His short film The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping won the Taipei Golden Horse Award Best short film competition in 2013, and the film Free and Easy (2016) won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival and received four nominations at the Taipei Golden Horse Awards. Manchurian Tiger received the Best Film Award at the Shanghai Int’l Film Festival 2021. 


2002 – Hawthorn 
2003 – Diary in Bulk
2004 – Barbecue 
2009 – Youth
2013 – The Hammer and Sickle (short)
2016 – Free and Easy
2022 – Manchurian Tiger
Maria Barbieri
Film director: GENG Jun
Year: 2022
Running time: 118'
Country: China
28/04 - 11:00 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
28-04-2022 11:00 28-04-2022 12:58Europe/Rome Manchurian Tiger Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine
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