Wang Bin, a young teacher and ornithologist from Beijing, travels to Pingyang, a rural town nestled in the mountains between Sichuan and Hunan, to try and photograph the Mountain Phoenix, a rare Chinese bird with a blaze of rich colours that has never before been captured on film. Pingyang’s chief of police is as corrupt as he is sadistic and he rules the town with an iron fist. He soon learns of the new arrival in town and fleeces Wang Bin for all he’s worth. Wang Bin narrowly escapes Pingyang with the help of Xiao Zhou, a pretty young receptionist at the seedy hotel in which he is staying and for whom he is developing feelings, and the Beijinger vows to return to the town, his mind set on causing the crooked police chief’s downfall. Together with Xiao Zhou and a cast of other victimised townsfolk from Pingyang, Wang Bin concocts a plan that is so far-fetched all agree it might just work. The Phoenix and the Crow is an exquisitely crafted short tale of morality and corruption in smalltown China, which reads like a contemporary fable.