This documentary aims to show the stories of ordinary people on Zhongshan Road represented by night market manager Ninth Uncle, as well as the vicissitudes of life in a changing era. Ninth Uncle is nicknamed “mayor of the night market.” He has been handling the Zhongshan Road Night Market for 30 years as a contract staff for the government. All kinds of private business owners gather up at the market; some are nice, some are not. Ninth
Uncle rules the market with a slightly rough, gangster approach and it works well. With his hard effort, the night market grew from just a few street vendors to a full-fledged 300-stand food plaza. The Zhongshan Road has since been known far and wide for its gourmet food. As the market thrives, the business owners and the city’s district officer show more respect to him. Thus Ninth Uncle’s status is quite high in the area. Although he is almost 70, Ninth
Uncle contributes most of his time to the night market. Whenever the night falls, he puts on his work uniform and brings his baton to go for a patrol in the night market with his team, no matter the weather. By midnight, he invites old friends from the market to drink and play card games. Dizzy, they then take a high-profile late night walk through the city. Ninth Uncle is successful at the night market, but he is not doing well when it comes to family. He lived a rather rough childhood and divorced several times. Now that he is old, he fails to enjoy a good relationship with his children. One lucky thing is that his current wife Xiao Yang is a gentle lady who doesn’t like to fight. She takes very good care of Ninth Uncle, too. On this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, Ninth Uncle and Xiao Yang got together with the family and worshiped their ancestors. As they ate, Ninth Uncle asked his son to get a stable job and marry soon. His son wouldn’t. The reunion ended in dismal. While the century-old Zhongshan Road looks shattered in the day, it transforms into a busy golden route in the night. Amidst the bustles and hustles are people making money by selling different things. And among these people is Sixth Uncle, a night market business owner and long-time neighbors with Ninth Uncle. They have been sharing drinks and meals for decades like brothers. They
are such good friends that they almost meet up daily to play cards and drink wine. Sixth Uncle was a gangster when he was young. He used to cheat in poker games and even spent three years on reeducation through labor due to gambling. After losing his clothing business, Sixth Uncle returned to Zhongshan Road to open a food shop and has been in the trade for more than 20 years since then.
There is also Sister Hen whose old chicken porridge shop receives more customers as it draws deeper into the night. A few years ago, Sister Hen lost 2.8 million due to gambling. It cost her only more than a year to pay the debts. Now, she’s ready to rise again. But the 30-year-old night market is counting its days, because the government will soon “renew” the Zhongshan Road. By then, this night market featuring gourmet food will cease to exist. As demolishment work goes on, the night market loses its customers. Sixth Uncle used to enjoy a great business, but his shop has now been torn down. He can do nothing but to be a street vendor again
with his wife and a few staff. Some old stores announce that they will soon relocate. Ninth Uncle has a night market revival plan in mind, but he can only watch his kingdom decline day by day. The world is not on his side.
The Chinese New Year is drawing near, and a few more facades of the street are being knocked down. But Ninth Uncle is thrilled because neighboring Gonghe Road, now a night market street, is to be managed by him. Ninth Uncle is busy recruiting new managerial
staff to keep the street in order and to secure their authority at work. At the same time, all of the private business owners in the night market are also getting ready for the busiest festival of a year.