Banned in China, director Yang Li's debut is a potent allegory of innocence and experience, mounted as a muscular thriller with a resonant context of corruption and deprivation. It's coal-black and deadly - but bracing and tough with it.
The plot sinks to a literal underworld: in China's privatised mines, two miners murder workmates, pass their deaths off as accidental and claim they were relatives in order to milk compensation funds. When they pick on the 16-year-old Fengming (Wang Baoqiang), though, his virginal innocence seems to chip at their work-weathered experience. The rest unfolds with punchy, fatalist economy. The moral murk is brilliantly realised: with the mines lit only by head torches, you can only just make out the film's moral shifts passing across the (perfectly cast) actors' faces. It's dark down there, but this is clear-sighted filmmaking with a biting black twist.