Film Review: Ice Poison

By Ka Yee Chan

Ice Poison, also named “Bing Du” in Mandarin Chinese, is a Taiwan/Myanmar film, which debuted in February 2014. It is a 95 minute documentary-like film. It features the living conditions in the undeveloped state of Myanmar, which is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.

The film began with the father (Zhou Cai Chang) and son (Wang Shin-Hong) farmers. They can barely survive on their harvest, and without proper documentation, they have a hard time searching for jobs. They decide to make a journey down the mountain to their neighbors and relatives to borrow money for a living.

However, each stop is a disappointment. Each of them has their own difficulties. They continued their journey and made a stop at the father’s cousin’s factory. He, as the factory owner (Li Shang Da), offers the son a job, but the father believes the son can make more money by operating a motor-scooter taxi service. As a result, the father uses his cow as a deposit to exchange for an old scooter from the factory owner.

The motor-scooter taxi service doesn’t go very well. After a long time of asking and begging, he gets his first customer, Sanmei (Wu Ke-Xi). She is a Chinese-Burmese woman rushing back home to her grandfather’s deathbed. She married an old man in China without love and had a son. She wishes to bring her son back to Myanmar.

However, her mother advises her to return to her husband, because there’s no money to be made in Myanmar. This forces Sanmei to go on the route of drug trade, which is the most dangerous route, but is also the only available route that will produce money. Also desperate for money, the scooter driver becomes part of the drug trade. The desperation has pushed them to become victims of ice meth themselves.

Midi Z is the director, writer and producer of Ice Poison. He is a Burmese-Taiwanese director. The director takes long shots in each scene to enforce the realism of the film as well the desperation for a better life. Midi Z manages to add some humor in the film; where Sanmei and the scooter driver went to sing karaoke. It is rather bitter, but optimistic.

This is their way of searching for livelihood in their poor living. There is no typical up and down in the film. It is very quiet, as if this is what they had expected to happen.

Ice Poison is a rather interesting film. It does not hope to surprise people, but to inform people with reality. Ice Poison is one of the participated films in Berlin International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Buenos Ares International Film Festival, Montreal International Film, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Osaka Asian Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Helsinki Asian Film Festival, Discovery Zone-Luxembourg City Film Festival, Southeast Asian Film Festival, Peace and Love Film Festival, and ASEAN-Korea Film Festival. If you want to view this film and know more about life in the countryside of Myanmar, look out for these festivals. For more:

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