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The people of a mining village in Western China struggle to better themselves under dangerous and soul-crushing circumstances in this drama. Daming (Li Chen) is a miner who has fallen in love with Jingshui (Zheng Louqian), who also works at the mines as a safety inspector. Daming and Jingshui try to keep their romance a secret from the gossips at work, but as he strives to make her happy, she's begun setting her sights on another man who can offer her a more prosperous life. Jingshui's brother Jingsheng (Huang Xuan) is also a miner, but he's sick of his dead-end job and aspires to become a musician. However, making a name for himself in music is even harder than he ever imagined, and he may have to return to mining if he likes it or not. Baogen (Luo Deyuan) is father to Jingshui and Jingsheng and has worked in mining all his adult life. Baogen's work has compromised his health, and as he reaches retirement age, he finds he must tie up the loose ends of his life before he runs out of time in both life and work. Dixia de Tiankong (aka The Shaft) was the first feature film from writer and director Zhang Chi. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi