Synopsis by Mark Deming
So Close to Paradise was filmed by director Wang Xiaoshuai in 1994, but was not publicly shown until 1998; the film reportedly went through re-editing and re-shooting after running into interference from government authorities before finally being approved for release. The film concerns two friends living in Wuhan, a major point of commerce along the Yangtze River. Dongzi (Shi Yu) works as a "pole carrier," an errand boy who lugs heavy loads from one place to another; he's convinced one gets ahead in life through hard work and determination. Gao Ping (Guo Tao), on the other hand, avoids physical labor and is trying to scam his way through life. One night, the two visit a shabby nightclub where they meet a sultry singer named Ruan Hong (Wang Tong). Gao recognizes Ruan as the girlfriend of a gangster who owes him money; he approaches her to try to find the mobster's whereabouts, but an attraction develops and soon Gao and Ruan are lovers. However, Dongzi also feels drawn to her, and a bitter triangle begins to form while Gao finds himself more at odds with Ruan's former lover. So Close to Paradise received its first screening outside China at the 1998 Mainland-Hong Kong-Taiwan Film Festival where it went by the title Vietnam Girl.
errand-boy, hard-labor, criminal, slacker, gangster, nightclub, singer, kidnapping