Following the various pursuits of three women in 1920’s China, Peking Opera Blues (Do Ma Daan) occasionally gets lost in its own labyrinthine plotting. The daughter of a general has joined a rebel organisation out to overthrown him by obtaining secret documents hidden within his safe. A female jewel thief on the run from the authorities tries desperately to reclaim her stolen loot from inside an opera house. The daughter of said opera house’s owner, an aspiring actress and acrobat, attempts to infiltrate the all male performance cast, much to her father’s distress, as having a female performer would ruin his business. These three plot strands are interwoven, with each girl playing a part in the other’s quest, but the repetitive forming of new plans, then immediately failing to follow them becomes jarring after a while, as does the lack of communication towards the audience – what is in the document everyone is so desperate to obtain? Why has the general’s daughter defected? Why are all the actors such screeching idiots?
At times the film borders on farce, with performers seemingly able to leap entire storeys, and audience members all moving in time during an unexpected gunfight, but the breakneck pacing, incomplete subtitles and looping plot structure let the film down.
Choose life 5/10