The Road

Directed by Zanbo Zhang

A highway is waiting to go through a quiet village in Hunan, a province in central China where Mao was from. Due to the high cost of construction, construction companies and migrant workers who live on road work rush to here like the tide. In the following four years, they root in this strange place for interests, paying sweat and blood, even their lives. With their arrival, local village and peasants are forced to change their lives. Many hidden interest lines and hidden rules about road construction of the nation are unveiled, together with the shocking truth and emerging secrets.


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  • ★★★★½ review by Dan Slevin on Letterboxd

    “I’d love to visit China one day but there’s no way anyone’s getting me on any highway or bridge built after 2007 – according to the film 37 bridges have collapsed since 2009 – but we seem totally happy to be using their cheap steel on our own infrastructure.”

    RNZ Widescreen

  • ★★★★ review by an. luo on Letterboxd


    - Where money is spent

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  • ★★★★ review by Glenn Dunks on Letterboxd

    Features a scene where a 200-year-old corpse is literally torn out of the ground for the sake of progress. Progress that, as the final few depressingly hilarious minutes show, was for nothing.

  • ★★★★★ review by JuanCostrada on Letterboxd

    The Road gives a detailed look at the construction of a highway through rural China, and all the corruption and politics that is embedded in the project.

    Cigarettes are given out, red letters exchanged, as the powers of authority are kept in check. The man who initially seems the villain becomes only a single player in a game that is horribly rigged. These shades of grey help deliver a sense of an entire society crippled by greed. The denouement is especially strange, with those who have been wronged, seemingly doing well out of their situation.

    The Costanza: A quiz show for company regulation beats out some truly awful lyrics.

  • ★★★★ review by Cineshots Blog (Jesue Valle) on Letterboxd

    There have been a handful of documentaries revealing the growing pains of China’s progression over the decade. Stories of displacement are told in Yun Chang’s cinematic UP THE YANGTZE about the building of a dam in the Yangtze river. In Lixin Fan’s affecting doc LAST TRAIN HOME we see the world’s largest human migration of workers coming home to their families for New Year. Most recently, THE CHINESE MAYOR by Zhou Hao chronicles the struggles of a figure in power who is revealed to be as helpless as the people and the city he governs.Zhang Zanbo’s THE ROAD is an accumulation of what these previous documentaries have touched on. Divided in segments that focus on particular groups of people, we see conflict between locals and labourers and then between labourers and the company and then between the companies and government officials.Full review at CINESHOTS BLOG. Capsule reviews on INSTAGRAM

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