Shiqi sui de dan che/ Beijing Bicycle (2001) is centered upon class
conflict and the urban-rural divide in capitalist China.
A poor boy from the countryisde, Guei, moves to the capital, buys an expensive
bicycle and finds a job as messenger. He is hard working and little talkative,
a simple soul in a cruel world. He slowly pays off the bicycle, but one
day a thief steals it. He loses his job, but jos boss promises to take him back
if he finds his bicycle. Guei starts roaming the cities and the parks of the
city, desperately seeking his bike that now represents his entire future.
The bicycle has been purchased by a spoiled city boy, who has stolen
money from his father, because his father refused
to buy a bicycle for him (preferring to pay for his sister's studies).
The city boy, Jian,
wants to show off to his very westernized friends and especially to a sweet
girl, Qin. He uses the bike to romance her, but is too shy to make the first
move. One day Guei recognizes Jian's bike as his own and steals it back.
Chased by Jian and his friends, Guei is almost beaten. But Guei is stubborn,
and finds another way to steal the bike. He gets his job back, and starts
riding through the city again. One day he accidentally hits a gorgeous-looking
girl (another spoiled and westernized figure) who doesn't even look at him.
He is fascinated by the decadent girl.
Jian's friends find out where he works, chase him and beat him
(in a bicycle version of Hollywood's car chases). But Guei is stubborn, and
shows up at Jian's place, confronting not only Jian but also his father, and
his father understands what happened: Jian stole the money that disappeared from
the house, and then bought the bike from the thief. Jian's father returns the
bike to Guei, who has hardly said one word more than necessary to claim his
bike. Guei behaves like an animal: it is his bike, and lives only to get it
back, and doesn't know any other way to get it back than take it or ask for it.
Jian is under pressure from girls and his gang to regain his bike, no matter
who is the legitimate owner. When he is surrounded by Jian's friend, Guei is
totally incapable of definind himself: he simply repeats that the bike is his.
He desperately clings to him bike as they are pulling it from him, and then
starts screaming: he is fighting for his future in the city. The gang eventually
gives up: they are good boys after all. They spend the rest of the day
arguing, until eventually one of them finds a compromise acceptable to both
parties: they will share the bike. While the fight and the negotiations
go on, one can see the lights and hear the noises of the city in the background.
So they start a strange friendship, using the bike every other day.
But Jian seems to have lost Qin. When another spoiled kid, member of another
gang, starts romancing her,
he grabs a brick and hits him in the head. Then returns the bike to Guei
for good: he doesn't need the bike anymore. The gang that is chasing Jian sees
the two together, and they start chasing both. They both get beaten, and
the bicycle gets destroyed. Guei grabs a brick and hits the kid that is