The Bleeding Edge


Flying Cloud Productions

A Canadian cybersecurity expert working with the Chinese government to build an electronic surveillance tool suffers unexpected heart failure. He's able to get a heart transplant within mere hours because of his importance to the project—and then discovers that the replacement organ was harvested from one of the country's thousands of political prisoners.

That's the plot hook of The Bleeding Edge, a film from the Canadian director Leon Lee. This fictional story is based on Lee's award-winning 2014 documentary Human Harvest, which claimed that thousands of imprisoned practitioners of the religion Falun Gong have been killed to supply organs to Chinese hospitals. Officially, the country has no organ donor program; the government maintains that hospitals are supplied only with organs from executed criminals.

The movie tells two parallel stories that intersect in an unexpected way. As the Canadian contractor (Jay Clift) tries to expose the secret he's uncovered without jeopardizing his own life, a Chinese woman (played by Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-Canadian who was banned in real life from the 2015 Miss World beauty pageant in China because she's spoken out against Chinese human rights abuses) is arrested and imprisoned for being a follower of Falun Gong, which is banned in China as a dangerous cult. Offered the chance to go free if she signs a pledge to stop practicing, she refuses and then endures being beaten, tortured, and raped by prison guards.

Despite its sometimes stilted dialogue and awkward pacing, The Bleeding Edge takes an unflinching look at China's repression of a religious minority, and it alleges a horrifying alliance between the country's police and its government-run hospitals.