In Blood of Youth, a convoluted tale of revenge by Chinese director Yang Shupeng, a young man (Yan Haoqi) suffers a traumatic injury defending a girl (Chen Wenqi) at his orphanage. Ten years later, a preposterously complicated scheme to take revenge is enacted… on some people whose importance only becomes apparent later. Various narrative threads coalesce on a rickety, over-cluttered boat that serves as a fitting metaphor for the film itself. The girl sends flirty texts to an orchestra conductor, who happens to be the unfaithful husband of the doctor treating the young man; a heist is foiled leading to a high-speed chase; a corpse is dug up; and flashbacks are recounted—all in scenes of performative intensity, handsomely shot by DP Cheng Siu-keung in his trademark shadowy style. There are many examples of this kind of network crime story in recent Chinese cinema, but movies like The Coffin in the Mountain, Port of Call or Chongqing Hot Pot are much more satisfying, their coincidental connections bounded by a basic rationality of action and reaction. Blood of Youth is unmoored from any kind of reality, its phantom epiphanies merely tedious.
Previously published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 1.