Loosely inspired by author Ye Mi's novel Velvet, Chinese New Wave director Jiang Wen's follow-up to Devils on the Doorstep drifts between Yunnan's Shangri-la and the Gobi Desert to follow four narratives exploring the roles that culture and revolution have played in Chinese history. In the first tale, a deranged young widow (Zhou Yun) slips on a pair of colorful shoes that have been embroidered to resemble fish, and abandons her only son (Jaycee Chan) to disappear into a nearby river. Set on a university campus during the Cultural Revolution, the second episode details the tragic relationship between professors Liang (Anthony Wong), Tang (Jiang Wen), and attractive doctor Lin (Joan Chen) that eventually leads the village where the mad widow resides. After exploring the magical texture of velvet in the third tale, Wen connects each of the stories by traveling back in time to the Gobi Desert.
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