A Simple Noodle Story

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A Simple Noodle Story
Chinese release poster
Directed byZhang Yimou
Produced byWilliam Kong
Screenplay byShi Jianquan
Xue Jianchao
Story byJoel & Ethan Coen
Based onBlood Simple
by the Coen brothers
StarringSun Honglei
Ni Dahong
Yan Ni
Music byZhao Lin
CinematographyZhao Xiaoding
Edited byMeng Peicong
Beijing New Picture Co.
Distributed byEDKO Film
Release date
  • December 11, 2009 (2009-12-11)
Running time
90 minutes
Budget$12 million[1]
Box office$38.6 million[1][2]

A Simple Noodle Story (simplified Chinese: 三枪拍案惊奇; traditional Chinese: 三槍拍案驚奇; pinyin: Sānqiāng Pāi'àn Jīngqí), internationally A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.[3] (Blood Simple in the UK) is a 2009 film directed by Zhang Yimou. It is a remake of Blood Simple, the 1984 debut of the Coen brothers, whose films Zhang Yimou lists as among his favorites.[4] The film transports the original film's plot from a town in Texas to a noodle shop in a small desert town in Gansu province.[4]

The film is a mixture of a thriller and screwball comedy.[5] The film stars Sun Honglei, Ni Dahong in the thriller segment while comedians Xiaoshenyang and Yan Ni star in the comedic segment. The film has been described as a considerable departure from the director's previous works.[6]


Set in a Chinese noodle shop in the desert, the restaurant owner plans to murder his adulterous wife and her lover.



Principal photography began in June 2009, and the film was released on December 11, 2009 in China.[7]


The film made its international premiere in competition at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear.[8]

The film received polarizing responses from audiences, with some noting the film's visual inventiveness and non-serious tone, while others criticized the film maker's use of slapstick humor and over-the-top style. Zhang revealed at the Berlinale that the Coen brothers had written to him after seeing a copy of the film, and expressed that they loved the changes made in this version.[9]

Derek Elley of Variety described the film as a "much more ascetic, chamber-like dramedy" that is a "pretty close adaptation" and "spiced up with some pratfall humor and visually enhanced by saturated lensing." Elley also noted "Coen aficionados won't be surprised by any of the subsequent twists in the tale, and general auds will be pleasantly amused, as Zhang tries to manipulate events for his own purposes."[1]

Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter is more mixed on the film, and described it as "a high-rolling but garish production with untranslatable regional ribald humor", and noted the changes from the original with "pacing is much more frenetic with characters and cameras in restless motion. The intervals are crammed with exotic sight gags and colloquial wordplay, such as a dough-making scene choreographed like a plate-spinning acrobatic show or the group hip-hop dance routine."[10]

Some critics also viewed the film as unique in Zhang's filmography. James Marsh of Twitch Film described the film as "a spectacular departure from his previous work", and praised the film's first half as "breakneck paced" and "many laughs to be had throughout", but noted "The second half takes a deliberate shift into darker territory, as those already familiar with the story will know, and while handled effectively in its own right, it does lose some of the energy generated in the first half."[6] However, Marsh states "that said, the film must certainly be deemed a success, both as an experimentation for the director, as an adaptation of Blood Simple and as a screwball comedy in its own right."[6]

Edmund Lee of Time Out Hong Kong described the film as "surely one of the year's unlikeliest projects", and a "sacrilegiously funny period remake." Lee further states: "Zhang has traded Texas' oppressively bleak vista for China's visually intoxicating desert landscape for this enthralling film, at once hilarious and cruelly ironic."[11]

However, Perry Lam in Muse criticized it, stating: "The story unfolds in an almost surreal, suspiciously computer-generated setting that is decisively closed off to outer reality. Zhang, who usually cares deeply about his characters, loses his intense emotional command over his actors."[12]

Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent reviewing the film at the Berlinale states "Zhang Yimou's remake of the Coen brothers' Blood Simple is exhilarating and inventive", and "Zhang's formal mastery is little short of astonishing...there are few film-makers who use colour or sound editing in such a bravura way."[13]

The film cost approximately $12 million to make, notably less expensive than Zhang Yimou's most recent historical epics. The film, in spite of the polarized reception, was successful at the box-office,[1] and went on to gross 261 million yuan ($38 million) in less than six weeks, tripling the film's budget.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Derek Elley (2010-02-18). "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop". Variety.
  2. ^ "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ "San qiang pai an jing qi. A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop". 2010 Berlin Film Festival. 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Zhang Yimou's 'Guns' in line with 'Blood Simple'". CCTV. 2009-06-17.
  5. ^ Coonan, Clifford (2009-04-29). "Zhang Yimou to shoot 'Three Guns'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  6. ^ a b c James Marsh. "A SIMPLE NOODLE STORY Review". Twitch. Archived from the original on 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  7. ^ 恶搞"三枪"娱乐大家 《三枪》明日上映. Sina.com (in Chinese). 2009-12-09. Archived from the original on 25 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  8. ^ "Hollywood Reporter: Berlin festival unveils full lineup". hollywoodreporter.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
  9. ^ Erik Kirschbaum (2010-02-14). "Chinese Coen brothers remake thrills Berlin festival". Reuters.
  10. ^ Maggie Lee. "A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop: Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010.
  11. ^ Edmund Lee. "A Simple Noodle Story". Time Out Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 2010-04-04.
  12. ^ Lam, Perry (2010). "'Bad monkeys'". Muse Magazine (36): 105.
  13. ^ Geoffrey Mcnab (2010-02-17). "A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop, Film Festival, Berlin". The Independent. London.

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