The “Story” (don’t read if you are in a blue mood…)
A girl named Zhao Xiaotao (pb Zhao Tao) a migrant from Shanxi is working as a dancer (mannequin/fashion-model) in the World Theme Park in Beijing. Her former boyfriend Liangzi happens to be passing through Beijing on his way to Ulan Bator as a legal offshore worker (visa and passport equipped), comes hunting to the Park and has a short lunchtime tete-a-tete with her, which provokes the jealousy of her current boyfriend Cheng Taisheng (pl/by Cheng Taishen). The (current) boyfriendTaisheng is also from Shanxi, and works at the Park as a security guard. A friend of Cheng’s and fellow migrant from Shanxi named “Sanlai” (pl Wang Hongwei) arrives in Beijing to take a job as a construction worker, bringing along a certain “Mistress 2” (Er guniang)- who turns out to be a man/boy whose mother had hoped might be a daughter.
Cheng’s underworld (black market) friends arranges for boyfirend/guard Cheng Taisheng to escort a Wenzhou (Zhejiang) born seamstress “Missy Liao” (pl by Huang Yiqun) on a trip to Shanxi to collect unpaid bills from deadbeat private clients. (One suspects the transactions were illegal… ). In his absence Zhao Xiaotao gets to be friends with a Russian girl named Anna who also works at the Park, but Anna is soon off in search of a different job. (She finds work as a nightclub hostess, so to speak). Though Anna can’t speak Chinese, hearing the words “Ulan Bator” on a TV news weather program stirs Anna to remembering her little sister (still) in Mongolia/Ulan Bator, Alyossa. Anna then teaches Xiaotao a Russian/Mongolian tune (lyrucs alkways in Chinese??!!) called Ulan Bator Night(s), which had been a kind of private souvenir or memento binding Anna to Alyossa. [though how a Chinese-worded song could do this..?)
(Upon his return) Cheng Taisheng tries to have premarital sex with Zhao Xiaotao but is rebuffed. He then goes looking for consolation from Missy Liao, whose eligibility for an affair is established when he learns from her that her husband has disappeared (been incommunicado) for 10 years after leaving in a boat operated by a illegal emigrant smuggling gang to deliver him to Paris (he was one of only 6 survivors); and that she (Liao) is also about to go abroad (also to Paris…).
Zhao Xiaotao is persuaded by several (other) girls to join in at a nightclub party to serve as a drink-along hostess for some rich businessmen clients, but she turns down an offer from one of the customers to pursue the relationship further (he dangles the reward of a fast-track fashion model and ? dancer/singer career in Hong Kong – shades of Shanghai Triad- but she won’t buy it). (But) at the nightclub she runs into Anna who is working there as a (regular) hostess.
Construction worker “Mistress 2” dies from working nighttime overshifts on a construction site (a crane or lift fails, dropping…), but leaves behind a notebook listing all his debts and to whom they are owed; (strangely), none of the amounts are more than a few RMB. When his elder brother (Han Sanming) arrives in Beijing, he accepts a hefty payout – or is it a bribe? – from the welfare fund(s) of the construction workers and hands it over to the parents: there is no complaint only a stoic acceptance of the swap of life for cash (after all, they took his life…).
Zhao Xiaotao winds up agreeing to have sex with Cheng Taisheng, but (then) discovers a (note of assignation?/cell phone invitation?) written by Missy Liao to Cheng on the evening of her departure abroad, and so she and Cheng become alienated.
They finally decide to try joint suicide by inhaling pipeline gas, they are saved from death by a last minute sniff by a guard…
“Are we dead”? “No, but this is only the beginning”. Not a cheerful outlook on the future.