Operators, The

Operators, The
[Wanzhu, 1988]
The Operators, an Emei Film Studio release, is one of several films from the late 1980s based on Wang Shuo’s fiction. The screenplay is by Wang and director Mi Jiashan. The title is also translated as The Trouble-Shooters. Disaffected ‘operators’ Yu Guan (played by Zhang Guoli), Yang Zhong (Ge You) and Ma Qing (Liang Tian) run the ‘Three T Company’ (three substitutes company), which takes on its clients’ worries, troubles and responsibilities. They keep a doctor’s date with his girlfriend, take abuse meant for a woman’s husband, and assume a man’s filial duty to his elderly mother.
A failed writer named Bao Kang (Li Geng) hires them to give him an award. The awards ceremony includes a fashion show during which workers, peasants, KMT and CCP soldiers, Peking Opera characters, capitalists, Red Guards and female body-builders meet on the runway, eye one another warily and then dance together in reconciliation. This playfulness turns wistful as Bao Kang sues the company; a professor of ethics denounces Yu Guan and his partners on television; the old woman in their care jumps to her death from a hospital window; and Yu Guan’s father and girlfriend push him to change his ways. The film’s irreverent satire skewers the pieties of the revolutionary generation and the hypocrisy of intellectuals. The last shot is of a line outside the Three T offices. In a time of collapsing ideologies, when nothing is real and everything is for sale, there is demand for the company’s services.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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