Previously at the ICA - Films

Still: Ma Wu Jia

Ma Wu Jia

21 Oct 200724 Oct 2007

Some would call Ma Wu-Jia a bad kid, even a borderline delinquent. He lives with his ailing mother and younger brother Wu-Ding in a small town in Guangxi, and actually couldn't do more for the brother, who has a kidney disease. Wu-Jia gives up school and takes a factory job to become the family breadwinner; he gives up running to allow himself to provide blood for his brother's transfusions; and when his brother loses fingers while playing on the railway track, Wu-Jia agrees to sacrifice two of his own as transplants for Wu-Ding. So his life is one of unending sacrifices... and yet still some would call him a bad kid, especially when he takes the biggest decision of his life in the closing scenes. Writer-director Zhao Ye (a former animator, here making his feature debut) clearly empathises with this boxed-in boy, and makes it easy for us to do so too. Ma Wu-Jia's life becomes a metaphor for entrapment and the impulse to break free, and his moral choices stand for those we all have to make. Persuasively acted by the non-pro cast and expansively photographed in widescreen, Zhao's film is an engrossing and morally challenging experience.

Dir Zhao Ye, China 2007, 95 mins

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