Murder and extortion in northern China

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Overall rating:

Score 4


Blind Shaft


Banned by the authorities in Beijing, this unsympathetic look at the shadier side of the mining industry provides a damning insight into the poverty and corruption rife in Chinese society.

Song and Tang are itinerant miners who make their living in northern China by luring ‘relatives’ to work in illegal mines, murdering them, then faking mine collapses and extorting money from the owners. Having dispatched one victim, they set their sights on Yuan, a 16-year-old peasant searching for work. The conmen take him under their wing and find him work in the mines?but when Song decides to make a man of Yuan before his murder, the crooks’ relationship begins to deteriorate dramatically.

Director Li Yang spent 50 hours filming in the illegal mines that dot China, adding a palpable edge to proceedings. The semi-documentary style highlights further the very real tragedy Yang is out to expose?in 2001, a major accident involving a collapsed mine in Nante in the Guangxi province resulted in the death of more than 40 miners. Tragic indeed.