"Sweeping Black and Never Giving Up": When the dust of fate hits ordinary people

    Note: This article contains spoilers

    The past three or four years can be regarded as a peak period for the creation of film and television dramas on the theme of sweeping away gangs and eliminating evil, and there have been big hits in the field of dramas, such as "Sweeping Black Storm" in 2021 and "Kuang Biao" in 2023. This time, "Sweeping Black and Never Give Up" (hereinafter referred to as "Never Give Up") was directed by Wu Bai, the director of "Sweeping Black Storm".

    Poster of "Sweeping Black: Never Give Up"

    The story takes place in the fictional city of Kuizhou, Zhongjiang Province. Familiar with the series of crime suspense dramas produced by Wuyuan Culture, where Wu Bai is located, the audience is not unfamiliar with Zhongjiang Province. These crime stories all take place in different cities under the jurisdiction of Zhongjiang Province. Jingang City has "Day Night Chase", Luteng City has "Ten Day Game", "Fatal Wish", "Escape", and "Sweeping Black Storm". This time, "Never Give Up" focuses on Kuizhou City, Zhongjiang Province, and expands the "Zhongjiang Province Story Universe".

    Although I have watched many TV dramas and movies about anti-gangsterism, Never Give Up still attracted me, especially the middle part of the movie, which made me feel very immersive (although the ending was disappointing). To paraphrase a line from the movie, "This time (anti-gangsterism) is different in intensity" - this time, the scale of Never Give Up is different.

    Li Nanbei (played by Xiao Yang) of the Kuizhou City Criminal Police Team accidentally captures the gang leader Cao Xiaojun (played by Geng Le) who has been on the run for many years during a capture operation. A special anti-gang task force is set up. "Big Black" and "Big Umbrella" are worried that Cao Xiaojun will reveal their evil deeds, and various forces begin a fierce struggle.

    Li Nanbei (played by Xiao Yang)

    The subtitle of the film is "Never Give Up". Interestingly, Li Nanbei wanted to give up at the beginning. When the higher authorities wanted to transfer him to the special case team, he immediately refused on the grounds that his marital relationship was not harmonious.

    When his apprentice Yu Qing (played by Fan Chengcheng) said to him, "The intensity is different this time", Li Nanbei retorted, every time the superiors said they took it seriously, "Sweeping away gangs is just a gust of wind, have you ever seen a gust of wind that cleans the streets? Besides, you are only sweeping away little devils, what about the King of Hell, can you sweep him away?" He went on to complain that not only can he not sweep away the King of Hell, but the King of Hell will also use the Book of Life and Death to cross out your name and retaliate against you.

    This is really a bold statement.

    Therefore, Li Nanbei's work philosophy is "We are all safe and sound, safe and sound." He advised Yu Qing that he would have to marry and have children in Kuizhou City in the future, so he should not cause trouble for himself.

    Li Nanbei plays it safe

    Li Nanbei's words show that he is not politically conscious enough, but he also established this role from the beginning. He is not a perfect character - he asks people to help his daughter's school, he wants to get promoted, he wants to "lie down"; however, he is not a coward, he still has the original intention of being a policeman, he is prudent and self-protective only because he knows the social and political ecology of Kuizhou City too well - it is too dark here, and the connection between "big black" and "big umbrella" is too deep.

    Therefore, when we say that "Never Give Up" is large in scale, it is not because of how high the level of the boss behind the scenes is, but first of all it is directed at Li Nanbei's "giving up" - all his initial worries were actually fulfilled!

    In the movie, gangster Li Taiping (played by Shi Zhaoqi) has accumulated huge economic benefits through illegal means. In order to maintain and expand his criminal network, he has established a cooperative relationship with the powerful "umbrella" Kuizhou Mayor Wang Tonghui (played by Jiao Gang) and others, and ensured that his criminal activities were protected through bribery, threats and other forms of interest transfer.

    Wang Tonghui (played by Jiao Gang)

    Li Taiping is like the "underground emperor" of Kuizhou City. With a wave of his hand, he can take out 60 million yuan and let the director of the Kuizhou Housing and Construction Bureau "take the blame" and sacrifice his pawns to save his chariot. Mayor Wang is just his "puppet". "Since we can train Mayor Wang, we can also train Mayor Li and Mayor Zhang." If anyone dares to conduct an in-depth investigation, he will retaliate against them, or even kill them directly to silence them...

    The gangster is like the "underground emperor"

    When a mutually dependent symbiotic relationship is formed between the "big gangs" and the "big umbrellas", what Li Nanbei said will naturally happen: "anti-gang operations are just a gust of wind." Deep-seated and fundamental problems (such as corruption and abuse of power) will still exist and will not cause any serious damage. Once the storm is over, the evil forces will make a comeback.

    "You are only sweeping away the little devils, but what about the King of Hell? Can you sweep away the King of Hell?" Those who are pushed out to "take the blame" in the anti-gang operation are all relatively low-level criminals ("little devils"), while those "big gangs" and "big umbrellas" ("King of Hell") are difficult to touch. The "King of Hell" has huge power and resources, weaving a complex protection network. Through the intricate network of relationships, economic interest chains and control of key information, it is not easy to be detected. Even if they are investigated, they will evade legal sanctions by means of tipping off, obstructing investigations, and interfering with the judiciary.

    The "King of Hell" will also remember you - when you participate in anti-gang operations, especially against high-level corruption and organized crime, you and your family will be in great risk, including threats to your life. Later, Li Nanbei, who participated in the operation, almost lost his life.

    "Never Give Up" is absolutely realistic in revealing the "darkness" of evil forces and their protectors. The audience seems to be looking at the criminal files, and what they see is naked darkness, which is shocking. The film not only exposes horrific crimes such as power-for-sex transactions, power-for-money transactions, murder, corpse disposal, and destruction of corpses, but also depicts a series of interlocking dramas such as shirking responsibility, scapegoats, and "suicide out of fear of crime", which has a bit of the color of 1990s documentary crime dramas.

    A major attraction of many anti-gangster films and TV series is to guess who the big boss is. The identity of the big boss is the key to solving the mystery. Keeping the identity of the big boss mysterious can greatly enhance the suspense and appeal of the story. However, "Never Give Up" does not follow this route. The movie reveals "Big Black" and "Big Umbrella" to the audience early on - although there is still a big reversal in the final stage of the movie, this article will not spoil it.

    Instead of making too much of a fuss about who is the BOSS, "Never Give Up" can shift its focus to two aspects. One is as mentioned above, it realistically reveals the inside story of the connection between "Big Black" and "Big Umbrella"; the other is that it vividly presents the harm caused by evil forces to ordinary people. In the words of the movie's slogan, "A false case raises the dust of fate, and the dust hits ordinary people, as heavy as a mountain."

    Yang Haoyu played a tragic father in the Spring Festival movie "Article 20". In "Never Give Up", he played another tragic father, Liu Xiaoman, whose story was so tragic that it was heartbreaking.

    Liu Xiaoman (played by Yang Haoyu) was imprisoned for ten years because of a false case.

    Ten years ago, in order to compete for the right to operate a coal mine, evil forces deliberately created a mining accident, but it was "packaged" as a production safety accident, and the mine's safety officer Liu Xiaoman was imprisoned for ten years. In the past ten years, Liu Xiaoman's letters of complaint written in prison have all fallen into the sea because the letters of complaint were "intercepted".

    "Big Black" and "Big Umbrella" colluded with each other and covered the sky with one hand

    After being released from prison ten years later, his daughter refused to recognize him and even engaged in prostitution. When Liu Xiaoman found her after he was released from prison, he told her "I earn 800 yuan for prostitution". Liu Xiaoman wrote another letter of complaint, trying hard to restore the relationship with his daughter, but was threatened by the evil forces again. If he dared to report again, he should be careful that his old mother and daughter would be hurt... Desperate Liu Xiaoman knelt on the ground, hit his head, burst into tears, and finally jumped down.

    False accusations destroy not only a person but also a family.

    Li Nanbei could not forget Liu Xiaoman's previous cry, and neither could the audience - "God, you are blind and only bully honest people. They are right, there is no fairness for honest people in this world!"

    Liu Xiaoman knelt down and cried bitterly

    In Liu Xiaoman, we see judicial injustice and wrongful convictions - judicial justice has been seriously distorted under the influence of evil forces; we see family breakdown and alienation - evil forces have caused irreversible secondary damage to the victim's family; we see the blocked reporting channels and the despair of being intimidated - evil forces have strictly controlled the flow of information and suppressed the voice of justice...

    “There is no fairness for honest people in this world.” Is this really true? Is it the only way?

    "Never Give Up" does not shy away from showing the deep harm caused by evil forces to the lives of ordinary people. By delicately depicting the injustice and suffering suffered by ordinary people, it touches the fragile and sensitive parts of the audience's heart - we may all become ordinary people hit by the dust of fate. This not only enhances the emotional appeal of the story, but also bravely exposes and deeply criticizes social reality problems, and issues a sharp questioning of the social justice system - our society has defects in protecting honest people and combating crime. Why do such incidents happen, and why does the social protection network fail?

    This is a breakthrough in the anti-gangster theme of TV dramas. For this reason alone, I am willing to recommend "Never Give Up".

    "Never Give Up" does have obvious shortcomings. The ending of the movie is obviously disappointing. Although it adds suspense to the reversal, it is really stiff and full of bugs. The revelation of another hidden boss relies on a few flashbacks; Li Hai, the key figure in the coal mine explosion, was "easily" found. Anyone can get rid of the evil forces, but he is the biggest loophole left behind; the plot of the gangster being eliminated is even more "funny". He is so powerful, but he is like a "little fly" sneaking across the border when he escapes; and at the moment of arrest, the hidden boss's farewell is also unbelievable...

    In addition, although some of the action scenes are well shot, the camera language of 500 still needs to be polished, and in many cases it is still more like a TV drama or online movie.

    In general, in the fierce competition of the Dragon Boat Festival, Never Give Up is worth watching. As a propaganda film about anti-gangsterism, the ending of the movie is given and the reflection is limited, but "the intensity is different this time", and Never Give Up has its meaningful parts. Xiao Yang and Fan Chengcheng, the "master and apprentice", created a lot of cold humor, which also added a lot of color.


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