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A Touch of Sin

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Title: A Touch of Sin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Wuxia films, Jia Zhangke, 24 City, Wang Baoqiang, Unknown Pleasures (film)
Collection: 2010S Drama Films, 2013 Films, Chinese Films, Films Directed by Jia Zhangke, Mandarin-Language Films, Wuxia Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

A Touch of Sin

A Touch of Sin
Film poster
Directed by Jia Zhangke
Written by Jia Zhangke
Cinematography Yu Lik-wai
Release dates
  • 17 May 2013 (2013-05-17) (Cannes)
Running time
135 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin

A Touch of Sin (Chinese: 天注定; pinyin: Tian zhu ding) is a 2013 Chinese drama film directed by Jia Zhangke (贾樟柯). It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival,[1] with Jia winning the award for Best Screenplay.[2] Stars of the film include Zhao Tao, Jia's wife and longtime collaborator.


  • Plot 1
  • Reception 2
  • Release 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Set in the present and based on allegedly true events from the recent past, the film also draws on the history of wuxia stories. The title in Chinese, 天注定 (Tian zhuding) is literally translated as "heavenly fate" or "fated doom," while its English title is a reference to King Hu's 1971 action epic A Touch of Zen, one of the most influential wuxia films.

It revolves around four threads set in vastly different geographical and social milieus across modern-day China, ranging from the bustling southern metropolis of Guangzhou and Dongguan to the more rural townships in Jia's home province of Shanxi.[3]

The stories are loosely based on:

  1. Hu Wenhai 胡文海 (2001)[4][5]
  2. Zhou Kehua (2004-2012)[4][5]
  3. Deng Yujiao incident (2009)[4][5]
  4. Foxconn suicides (2007-2013)[4][5]


Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 93% based on reviews from 72 critics, with an average rating of 7.6 out of 10. The site's consensus states: Its screenplay isn't as graceful as the choreography of its action sequences, but A Touch of Sin offers enough stylishly satisfying violence to muscle past its rough spots.[6]

A Touch of Sin was well received at Cannes, with some critics calling its genre elements, including scenes of graphic violence, a stylistic departure from some of Jia's past works, known for quiet realism and surreal visions of contemporary China. Dennis Lim of the Los Angeles Times notes that although the style may be different, the disturbing themes of the film built on the social criticism in Jia's earlier work.[7]


Although Jia's films have been officially released in China since 2004's The World, his earlier works were made independent of government censors and were thus never publicly released in cinemas. In May 2013 it was announced that the film had been cleared for release in mainland China, a surprise to observers within and outside the country who feared such subject matter was taboo.[7] By December 2013 the film still had not been cleared by censors,[8] and a leaked directive from the Central Propaganda Department instructed media not to conduct interviews, report or comment on the film.[9]


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External links

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