Director Diao Yi'nan packs a punch with this modern-day film noir. THE WILD GOOSE LAKE is dark and poetic, a perfect amalgamation of crime and mystique.
Zenong Zhou (Hu Ge) is on the run. In an attempt to end the turf war brewing between two motorcycle gangs, Zenong has killed a cop - accidentally, it seems - and now must go into hiding. He runs to the small town of Wild Goose Lake, with one of the local bathing beauties (or so they are called - prostitutes who pick up their clients at the beach) as accomplice. Ai'ai Liu (Kwei Lun-Mei) can either help him or hurt him - that is, she can either reunite him with his wife, Shujun Yang (Regina Wan), or turn Zenong in to get the bounty offered for him. And throughout the entire story, we wonder which avenue she finds most appealing.
The film puts its weight in hidden information - whether it is hiding a character or object from view as long as possible to keep the story fresh and interesting, or tantalizing you with an unheard piece of dialogue, Diao keeps our attention and always has us seeking more. For Liu, her motives remain hidden from view for the majority of the movie, which make the draw of her character even more for an audience that tries to piece things together.
The story is a bit meandering, even for a slow-paced film, but that doesn't prevent it from engaging you the entire time, and the film's mise en scene is to thank for that -- with slow-paced action and plenty of shadows and rain, the film holds a candle for the noir attributes of days old while still attaining a completely modern look and feel. Kwei gives a captivating performance, overshadowing as the protagonist and connecting with us in her strange, unaffected way. If you're up for a work of art, definitely watch THE WILD GOOSE LAKE!