Film Review – The Wild Goose Lake (2019)

Title – The Wild Goose Lake (2019)

Director – Yi’nan Diao (Black Coal, Thin Ice)

Cast – Ge Hu, Lun-Mei Kwei, Fan Liao, Regina Wan

Plot – Wanted gangster Zenong Zhou (Hu) finds himself on the run from police and rival gang members as he meets the mysterious Aiai Liu (Kwei) who he begins to fall in love with.

“This lake is a lawless place”

Review by Eddie on 09/12/2019

Filmed in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Chinese gangster thriller The Wild Goose Lake is an accessible and stylistic crime film that brings the visual sensibilities of filmmakers like Michael Mann and Nicolas Winding Refn to a whole new landscape.

Directed by Yi’nan Diao, Lake is the type of film that favors visual and composition over dialogue and character building, as we follow Ge Hu’s wounded gangster Zenong Zhou, who finds himself wanted and hunted by cops and fellow criminals alike as he attempts to survive by hiding out in the lawless and violence ridden area of Wild Goose Lake.

It’s a great set-up and Diao makes good use of his unique surrounds as the films unique time and place helps mask the fact that the story at the heart of Lake is one we’ve seen done countless times before from various corners of the globe.

It’s a good thing the films are so visually pleasing, from night time scooter rides to bloodthirsty fight scenes, as Hu gets lumped with a rather charisma free centerpiece that never feels as alive as the places he finds himself in, while all of the films supports feel rather forgettable and cookie-cutter also in a landscape filled with generic goons, cops and paperback style token love interests and female hangers-on.

Despite the weak plot line and even weaker caricatures, Lake manages to hold your interest throughout as we remain unsure where things will go and Diao makes sure that every scene is filled with wonderfully framed and captured imagery, often basked in a neon glow and scored moodily, Lake is feast for the senses that doesn’t engage the heart but certainly engages aesthetically in a way that is exciting for Chinese cinema moving forward.

Final Say –

The Wild Goose Lake is a crime film that’s going to be a big hit for those that have enjoyed other recent visually focused offerings like Only God Forgives and Drive and while the film fails to break any new ground, its intriguing setting and design makes this a sensory feast with a fresh Chinese twist.

3 umbrella’s out of 5  

The Wild Goose Lake is currently screening in select Australian cinemas, for more details CLICK HERE 

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