If you know famed Japanese director Takashi Miike for his long string of ultraviolent Yakuza gorefests and stories of unspeakable sexual perversion, you'll be shocked -- in a dreamy, Zen-like way -- by The Bird People in China, a strange aberration in the Miike oeuvre that's soft, sensitive, and deeply moving. No human entrails were spilled in the making of this movie.

This is a road picture, a very bumpy road picture, featuring two Japanese men who make their way to a primitive corner of China's remote Yunnan province in search of a potentially valuable vein of jade that's just waiting to be mined. Yuppie businessman Wada (Masahiro Motoki) thinks he's traveling alone. Little does he know he's being shadowed by Ujiie (Renji Ishibashi), a yakuza who plans on grabbing the jade lode since Wada's company owes money to his gangland bosses.

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