Thursday, July 31, 2014

756. Dao ma zei/The Horse Thief (1986)

Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Tian Zhuangzhuang
Written By: Zhang Rui
Main Cast: Dan Jiji, Gaoba, Jayang Jamco, Tsesheng Rinzim, Daiba


I told my wife that I was just going to lay down with her for a few minutes and then get back up to write my review for The Horse Thief. Well, about as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light and didn't wake up until it was time to go to work this morning. So, I had to postpone everything by one night and now here we are. Let's get to it...

The plot synopsis I'm about to give you is the plot synopsis that I got from watching this movie. There was VERY little dialogue, which kind of made it a little hard to follow the film. However, I think I pretty much got the gist of everything - so I'll hit the bullet points and we'll go from there. So we've got the main character, his name's Norbu and as the title suggests, he's a horse thief. Except he's not just a horse thief, he's basically a kleptomaniac, as far as I could tell. In addition to being a thief, he's also a family man though, taking good care of his wife and kids (thus why he steals) and trying to provide for them, by any means necessary. The film is set in Tibet, among a clan of religious fanatics who offer sacrifices and offerings to Buddha, in exchange for him taking care of their land. Norbu is a part of the religious clan - that is until he's caught stealing temple offerings and is told to leave and never come back. Furthermore, he's told that if he ever does come back, his hands will be cut off. After being exiled, his son becomes very ill and Norbu believes it's because he's betrayed his God. Where he once got holy water from a lake meant to be used by all of the community, he now holds a pale to a trickling drain pipe in hopes that the rains from the heavens will cure his son. His son eventually dies and Norbu tires to change his ways, going back to the clan to try and make peace, but ultimately getting attacked and ran off.

This is the kind of movie that I'd normally just write off within the first twenty minutes and spend the next hour and change just putting up with it. I decided this time that I'd REALLY try to give this one a fair shake. I'm not saying I liked it or anything, but it wasn't a completely heinous ninety minutes and actually I'll give credit to some good cinematography and I suppose, a decent story. Martin Scorsese supposedly named this one of his top movies of the 90s (citing that it wasn't really a known film until that decade, despite being released in '86) and I'm willing to bet that was a big reason why THE BOOK broke down and included it. It's really nothing particularly important or particularly good and honestly, I think there were plenty of other important films. The lack of dialogue was a big turn off for me and were they really killing those animals? I'm no card carrying PETA member, but some of that stuff looked pretty brutal (cutting a sheep's throat and another scene depicting a group of sheep being buried alive, all for sacrificial purposes).

In the end, if it was something I really wanted to write off, I would have which proves that there must have been something there that kept me attached to the action. Again, not a great film by any means, but it's one of the better rare ones. Like I've said before, the rare stuff is usually the stuff that I dread going into, probably just because I know NOTHING about it. Not a lot of hype, not a lot of opinions to be found online, not a lot of nothing. This one was short enough to not get on my nerves too much, but ultimately I'd call it a worthless entry into THE BOOK, but one that must carry some sort of importance that I'm just not getting.

RATING: 4/10  I'll give it a few notches for the stuff I mentioned, but nothing worth going out of your way to see or anything, despite Scorsese's recommendation.


July 31, 2014  10:55pm


  1. Sorry, another of those I don't feel I've much to add to the conversation..
    It was .. OK.. but it didn't grab me in any way or hold my attention.

    1. I have nothing against the Chinese, but some of these Chinese films are ROUGH to get through!

  2. Hey Andrew! I know you haven't reviewed this one yet, but have you found Lucia anywhere? I found it for $30 on Amazon but that's such a pain.

    1. I actually managed to find it online last year and somehow managed to save it to my computer. I'll see if there's anyway I can send you the file...


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...