Suzhou River

Suzhou River, directed by Luo Ye, 2000, China

Marda (name in Chinese means “motor”), a motorcycle courier, about 26 years old and a man of few words; after bring laid off, bought an old motorbike because he believed it looks cool to ride it; falls in love with a girl named “Mudan” (peony) whom he has to send to her aunt’s from time to time when her divorced father finds her presence inconvenient; involved in the kidnapping of Mudan for ransom against his conscience; the crime earns him a few years in jail; after coming out from jail, looks everywhere for Mudan whom he saw last jumping into the Suzhou River; pursues a barmaid named “Meimei” (beauty) who looks almost identical to his old flame; finally finds Mudan in a 24 hour convenient store who knows him as Marda, and who asks him to take her home; drunk with happiness he takes her one more time on a motorcycle ride but kills himself as well as his love in an accident
Xia Hong, a bar tender and believed to have been Mardar’s ex-girlfriend, often associated often with shady characters and criminals for extra money; passes on odd jobs to Mardar whenever speedy delivery within Shanghai is needed; grows apart from Mardar and starts seeing a gang member named “Old B;” and the two conspire to kidnap Mudan for 450,000 yuan; stabbed to death by her partner in crime after the ransom money is delivered.
Mudan (Chinese name means peony), a teenager from a broken family, with a divorced father working as a wine dealer who imports from East Europe illegal vodka; sent to her aunt’s every time her father bring women home; with no one to talk to except Marda, the motorcycle courier whose job it is to take her away from and back to home, and who gives her a mermade doll with blond hair on her birthday; looks up to him first as a surragate father and then as a lover; feels betrayed on realizing that he is involved in her own kidnapping and tries to run away and commit suicide;
Meimei, a young woman that works in a bar called “Century Happiness,” her job is to entertain customers by swimming in a big tank of water as a mermade wearing a blond wig; lives on a small tourist boat; rude to Marda that patronizes her bar and identifies her as his former girl friend; has him thrown out but when finally told the reason why he must find “Mudan,” feels comfortable in the role that he projects onto her as the object of his strong affection; sleeps with him one night; and begins to grow estranged from her current boyfriend, the narrator whom she wants to see as some one like Marda with his undying love for Mudan; saddens by Marda’s death and leaves the “I” (first person narrator) in the end with a note inviting him to a journey to find her
“I”, first person narrator of this film whose face the viewer never sees; Meimei’s boyfriend, curious about the love story of Marda and Mudan as Meimei told it to him; feels insecure when Meimei becomes romantically involved with the character Marda; does not know if he should believe in the love story that is too romantic to be true or dismiss it as an illusion created out of his girlfriend’s imagination; the whole story is so perfect that the characters could well have been his own alter ego and projection


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