I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t begun to lose faith in Chinese cinema over the years especially when compared to their Korean counterpart. Then comes a film called Savage (Xue Boao) which delivers a product that I have yet to see from the region, a thriller set in the frozen tundra of Baekdu Mountain and I can safely say, this is the best Chinese film I’ve seen in years.
Savage (Xue Boao) begins as the story of two cops who are stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. Detective Kanghao (Chang Chen) and his partner are stuck in the harsh frozen conditions as they run into a murderous group of thieves who are in search of a large stash of gold that’s hidden in the mountains. Kanghao’s partner is murdered and himself severely injured as the next year of his life becomes obsessed with finding the men in the mountains and avenging his partner’s death.
In what is a rookie effort for Chinese screenwriter Cui Siwei, the crisp writing and the imaginative cinematography of Du Jie captures a visually beautiful story. When it comes to the plot, you can see the inspiration from certain films like Lethal Weapon and The Hateful Eight in its presentation. The cast of characters is colorful and everyone has their own motivations and personalities. The subplot involves obtaining gold from a previous heist and it’s greed that causes many of our characters to be unpredictable keeping you engaged in the story. Short term alliances and constant backstabbing makes it to where you aren’t sure how the film is going to end, especially when everyone is wounded dealing with the great equalizer of arctic elements.
Savage (Xue Boao) intense storytelling and stylish camera work delivers a film that accomplishes more than most Chinese big budget films with shotty special effects does, A well tuned thriller that audiences from all continents can enjoy.