The Wild Goose Lake

Directed by Diao Yinan
Film Movement
110 Minutes
China, France
Crime, Drama, Thriller

From acclaimed director Diao Yinan, THE WILD GOOSE LAKE is the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his 2014 Berlinale winning neo-noir BLACK COAL, THIN ICE. Toppling box office records in Diao’s native China, THE WILD GOOSE LAKE “cements his status as a master filmmaker with another ingenious crime epic” (Little White Lies).

When small-time mob leader Zhou Zenong (Chinese superstar Hu Ge) accidentally kills a cop, a dead-or-alive bounty is placed on his head, forcing him on the lam from both the police as well as dangerous gangsters out for the reward. Hiding out in China’s densely populated (and deeply divided) Wuhan province, Zhou becomes entangled with a beautiful, enigmatic woman, who has mysterious intentions of her own. Featuring gorgeous, neon-drenched cinematography and bursts of shocking, expertly choreographed action, THE WILD GOOSE LAKE is “spellbinding” (Rolling Stone), “brilliant" (Indiewire) and “downright Hitchcockian” (AV Club).

Director & Cast




  • "An invigorating, poetic, and discretely brilliant Chinese noir...."
    David Ehrlich, IndieWire
  • "Diao Yinan cements his status as a master filmmaker with another ingenious crime epic. The Wild Goose Lake is another assured, exhilarating tale of criminality and the havoc it wreaks on interpersonal connection, with everything impressive about its predecessor – attentive procedural detail, curious experiments with colour and shadow, action set pieces that’d make Michael Mann envious – raised to the Nth degree. There’s not a single false step in its two hours; every edit, every shot setup, every movement of the camera maximises the raw cinematic effect. There’s power in Diao’s more subdued passages, but when he really lets loose and the fists (or bullets, or strategically concealed booby-traps) start flying, this film’s greatness transforms from the kind that sneaks up on you to the kind that blows you away."
    Charles Bramesco, Little White Lies
  • "Like a beautifully constructed puzzle box, The Wild Goose Lake various layers unfold in satisfying ways. With elegant violence, emotional richness and a complex yet coherent storyline, this is a rare bit of crime thriller treat that truly pays off. Above all, it’s a highly entertaining film that doesn’t for a moment eschew aesthetics, crafting a world of shadow and subterfuge that’s terrific. The Wild Goose Lake is a hoot, a Chinese crime thriller that proves Diao Yinan is a new master of dark, thrilling noir."
    Jason Gorber, Slash Film
  • "Diao Yinan’s twisting and turning nocturnal noir is full of moody attitude and glorious cinematography."
    Dave Calhoun, Time Out
  • "Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake starts with a rainy night, a guy on the lam, a dame who sidles up to him and murmurs, “Got a light?” In other words, this Chinese gangland thriller kicks off in classic noir style, and gets progressively noirer and more nocturnal as it goes on. The fourth feature from writer-director Diao, who made a major impression with 2014’s investigative drama Black Coal, Thin Ice, this hyper-stylish manhunt drama laces slow-burn atmospherics with abrupt outbursts of staccato action, and boils down characterisation to the leanest of bare bones, making for minimalist existentialism in the style of Jean-Pierre Melville."
    Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
  • "Diao Yinan delivers a definitive Chinese crime noir, in which the ravishing style and inventive staging form the substance."
    Jessica Kiang, Variety
  • "In a movie where just about every scene contains some inventive technique or choice, I was most taken with the way Diao boldly abstracts some of his action: a close-quarters fight that unfolds entirely through associative close-ups; a stabbing conveyed through the scattering of bills; a cop discovering one of his colleagues is dead when a dollop of blood lands on his face. Some of these moments are downright Hitchcockian, giving us the implication of violence without always actually showing it."
    A.A. Dowd, AV Club
  • "While Chinese director Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake hardly reconfigures the crime thriller afresh, it does pare it down to the essentials to exhilarating effect, progressively jettisoning the whys and wherefores of plot to focus on little more than two bodies moving through any number of ravishing, noirish spaces."
    James Lattimer, Sight & Sound
  • "This enjoyable and elegantly styled noir thriller is ... awash with wonderful set-pieces and exquisite visual moments which skilfully echo China’s gilded past and leave us in no doubt of its contempo criminality and territory wars. "
    Meredith Taylor, Filmuforia
  • "Like the waters lapping up against the shores of its murky titular setting, Diao Yinan’s fugitive thriller The Wild Goose Lake (Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui) is a film that doesn’t hit you like a tidal wave as much as it gradually washes over you, leaving in its wake a series of memorable set-pieces and a dense, dark web of violence and fatality."
    Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
  • "It’s a spellbinding pulp noir with a stylish edge and a sui generis fatalism. (12 Best Movies at the Toronto Film Festival)"
    David Fear, Rolling Stone
  • "A dizzying, frenetic plunge into the winding and over-populated working-class districts of the city, Wild Goose Lake is an exceptional auteur film and noir. Each and every shot is well worth the detour in this sea of coup de force visuals (a very special mention goes to Director of Photography Jingsong Dong), on which the plot never lingers; instead, it takes them in as it twists and turns torrentially (as written by the filmmaker himself), blasting its way through a three-day period, broken up by some nice atmospheric moments where all the actions slows. It makes for a dazzling, labyrinthine journey through a criminal underworld. Here, violence plays an eternally cathartic role and sometimes bursts with black humour, making great use of the laconic and darkly romantic charisma of the two main actors and confirming the immense, fascinating and highly entertaining talent of Diao Yinan."
    Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa
  • "More even than on its strengths as an expertly directed piece of entertainment, Diao’s latest impresses for its scathing, and unexpected, indictment of societal ills—for how the filmmaker recognizes the extent to which the contours of a sordid genre film appropriately express realities of Chinese life."
    Sam Mac, Slant Magazine
  • "...this film is fascinating because of how those genre thrills are complicated by these off-kilter, idiosyncratic formal choices that trigger not just a lurid dreamscape and uncomfortable humor... but also a vulnerability in the face of alienation and suffering. Watching Wild Goose Lake feels like watching a society crumble in real-time, the architecture itself decaying and being painted over while people’s baggage and experiences become more and more exposed...."
    The Film Stage
  • "Wild Goose proves smart genre cinema is alive and well for those who know where to look for it."
    Forrest Cardamenis, Hyperallergic
  • "Visually arresting, complex and completely hypnotizing, Diao Yinan’s mobster-on-bikes tale is a dazzling and exuberant take on comradeship, rivalry and revenge. Seductive and engrossing, it’s a feast for the eyes, delivering this year’s most efficient and inventive cinematography."
    Roger Costa, Brazilian Press
  • "If Black Coal Thin Ice was a cold noir with its wintry setting, The Wild Goose Lake is the opposite- its subtropical setting and constant rain provide the film soaked with atmosphere and vivid colors under flickering fluorescent lights. And it's a beauty, thanks to Diao's regular cinematographer Dong Jingsong. Along with recent Long Day's Journey into Night, The Wild Goose Lake continues the tradition of 'Tropical Noir' of Wong Kar-Wai's work. "
    Dustin Chang, Screen Anarchy
  • "The Wild Goose Lake, the latest film from Black Coal Thin Ice director Yi'nan Diao, turns the crowded alleys and markets of Wuhan, Central China, into some sort of neon fever dream -- a riot of crime and color and scooter rides straight to hell, bang bang. The Wild Goose Lake has style for days, and spends its two hours cramming it all into every knockout Noir-ish frame. Falling somewhere astride the sinewy technicolor spaces and places that Nicolas Winding Refn's been as of late (though decidedly less surreal) Yi'nan proves himself a master visualist -- Goose Lake drips with night, with neon signs reflected in street puddles, with pimpled flesh and bullet-wounds that ooze a tar sheen. "
    Jason Adams, The Film Experience
  • "Another severe and potent meditation on class, Diao Yinan's tantalizing cinematic treat, "The Wild Goose Lake" is deceptively wrapped up in a street crime thriller package but often defies genre convention. This spellbinding Chinese Noir follows a gangster (the captivating Hu Ge) who is trying to do his best to stay alive and escape the cops after he's accidentally murdered one. Yinan manages that rare blend of social relevance and B-movie escapism with a dash of redemption."
    Frank J. Avella, EDGE Media Network
  • "...I thought Diao Yinan’s “The Wild Goose Lake” had something of Eisenstein about it, the percussive directionality and suggestiveness of each edit, the way violence happened by implication because a cut is made from a violent instrument to a blood stain. It’s a film of sensual tension wrung from its cinematic touchstones...."
    Scout Tafoya,

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