Twenty-something Wang Xiaojian (Liang Hongli), who works for his family's tailor shop, finds himself caught in the clashing values of modern-day China.
Wang Xiaojian's father, a factory worker, is ill and out of work, and his infirmity shadows the family, not only because of his health, but because of the loss of his pay and state benefits. Wang Xiaojian's life is aimless going to university is not an option, state-run factories are enduring strikes by workers disgruntled by economic changes, and he is lonely. He can't get a pretty video clerk, Zheng Shasha (Zeng Xueqiong), to pay attention to him because he has little to offer monetarily.
But hope unexpectedly arrives. A policeman has not picked up his uniform from the tailor shop. When Wang Xiaojian attempts to deliver it, he is told that the policeman was in an accident and will not be back for a while. On his way home, Wang is drenched by a sudden downpour. After drying off in a subway tunnel, he puts the uniform on and his life changes. The uniform gives him power, authority, and the ability to get money.
Wang Xiaojian begins to impersonate a police officer, extorting money from bus drivers and motorists who depend on driving for a living. This not only provides money, but gives him a sense of worth. As he develops confidence, he sets out on two missions to woo the young woman in the video shop, and to make money for his father's health care.
Wang Xiaojian wears his uniform to the video shop and arranges to meet Zheng Shasha after business hours. The two begin to meet regularly. As someone from the countryside, Zheng Shasha welcomes a man to take care of her in the city, and Wang Xiaojian enjoys the role. But when he makes her a shirt in the tailor shop, she cannot accept that this could be made by the man she knows in uniform.
Zheng Shasha also has a double life. In her desire to participate more fully in the new capitalist society, she is an escort girl. Her encounters are mostly benign, but she does experience a terrifying confrontation with two clients. At the same time, Wang Xiaojian is on the verge of being caught at a time when he is ready to give up his charade, particularly now that he is able to pay his father's hospital bill.
At the film's end, Zheng Shasha and Wang Xiaojian are on a date, seemingly ready to shed their facades. Wang Xiaojian goes to get cigarettes and some food at a kiosk. Two off-duty policemen recognize him as an imposter. Wang Xiaojian jumps on his bike and races away — leaving Zheng Shasha waiting for him.
About the Director
Diao Yinan was born in Xi'an, Shanxi Province, China, in 1969. He attended the Central Academy of Drama, where he graduated in 1992 with a degree in literature and screenwriting. From there he went on to collaborate on three screenplays: Spicy Love Soup (1998), Shower (1999) and All The Way (2001). As an actor, he has starred in Yu Lik Wai's All Tomorrow's Parties (2003). Uniform is Diao Yinan's directorial debut.