Jiang Wen stars in his third directorial work that boasts a stellar cast including Joan Chen, Anthony Wong and Jaycee Chan. A polyptych of interconnected stories in different time-zones, shifting between a Yunnan village, a campus, and the Gobi Desert.
During the Japanese occupation of China, two prisoners are dumped in a peasant’s home in a small town. The owner is bullied into keeping the prisoners until the next New Year, at which time they will be collected. The village leaders convene to interrogate the prisoners. The townspeople then struggle to accommodate the prisoners. One is a bellicose Japanese nationalist, the other a nervous translator. Will the townspeople manage to keep the prisoners until the New Year?
Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time imposter. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues.