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150 Ratings

Ash Is Purest White

江湖儿女 | Jiang hu er nv

Directed by Jia Zhangke
China, France, 2018
Drama, Romance


Qiao is in love with local mobster Bin. During a fight between rival gangs, she fires a gun to protect him. Qiao gets 5 years in prison for this act of loyalty. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off. A story of love, betrayal and loyalty set in China’s underworld.

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Ash Is Purest White Directed by Jia Zhangke
Jia fuses these familiar settings, elements, and themes into something new within his oeuvre, namely his most humane and empathetic film.
October 05, 2018
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Personally, I like Ash Is Purest White more than either of these other estimable “late” works, and not only because it so deliberately evokes aspects of Jia’s early 21st-century ascent. It’s more to do with the move from an ensemble approach—which flattens out and essentializes characters, rendering them components of a larger machine— to something so yoked to individual psychology.
October 03, 2018
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Ash is not unusual in Jia’s work for spanning a considerable period of Chinese history, but it does mark the first time he’s historicized the period he’s covered, in real time, in his own work. If you’ve experienced that primarily (though not exclusively) through his films, as I have, the effect is doubly moving, inevitably reminding the viewer of the aging process.
October 03, 2018
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What are people saying?

  • Jason's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    ASH finds Jia working with his first large budget and the prospect of a sizeable domestic audience. It also finds him arriving at a whole new level of self-reflexivity, his own legacy curiously under the microscope. It also finds Zhao Tao at her all-time best. She is now officially legendary. Nothing I have seen recently has struck me as so sweepingly comprehensive. It can almost float, and it can be heavy as hell.

  • msmichel's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    TIFF '18 Visually impressive new film from Jia Zhangke that has him working with a much more linear script that often skirts genre conventions yet still has that enigmatic and cerebral side that make his films special. Zhao Tao is magnificent here as a self sacrificing woman whose character changes as much as the country around her. Liao Fan also impresses. Though the film ends abruptly it inspires reflection.

  • xuxuxush's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    After Mountains I was worried Jia might be losing his touch but Ash shows JZK at the height of his power, unfurling w/ masterful range—tender, explosive, epic, lyrical—tho the last 3rd loosens the tension. Tho it recalls past figures, settings, and themes, this is far from a derivative pastiche. Rather, these motifs are distilled—made pure white—and infused with the ancient, potent spirit of wuxia.

  • VincentVendetta's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    It's great that Jia Zhangke finally has the financial backing to make his Chinese epics, but I'm starting to miss him exploring his mainland with basically nothing. Just like Mountains May Depart, the opening segment is incredibly strong, but the gigantic machinery at his disposal proves too much to maneuver.

  • bryanvmh's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    Jia Zhangke's most self-reflexive and self-aggrandizing work. Love that the motif of the water bottle from Still Life makes a triumphant return here, love that YMCA gets not one but two plays, and love Zhao Tao, but the last half hour or so felt a little plodding

  • Noli Manaig's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    Always, a reconfiguration of the Chinese landscape--the Three Gorges Dam under construction is, by now, a shorthand for it. Always the decoded flows of labor & capital: the itinerancy of workers & reterritorializations with the overcode of capital. Yet, impishly, Jia twits us again with extraterrestrial sightings hovering in the firmament, questioning immanence with larger, ultramundane possibilities.

  • Bilouaustria's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    Viennale _ I admire the freedom of Jia Zhangke. He mixes genre films, finds his own pace, needs little to captivate the viewer. The trajectory of the film is comparable to Hitchcock´s "Psycho" if you consider the main scene happening after only an hour. From there on begins another film, a melodrama, centered around a lost woman without landmark. There is also a beautiful hotel scene, strange and almost unreal.

  • Aaken's rating of the film Ash Is Purest White

    Jia Zhangke brings a welcome twist in the macho world of mobsters and gangsters, and pits the heroine's genuine courage, love and loyalty against her male counterparts and their self-deluding illusions of power. Zhao Tao is exceptional.

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