For an intense, fast-moving, well-done, glimpse into what it is like working in Northwest China’s coal mines I highly recommend viewing Blind Shaft. My favorite librarian recommended this movie after I told him how corrupt China’s business practices actually are (see my review of Paul Midler's book Poorly Made in China).
The movie was secretly filmed in China at illegal mine sites along the border between Hebei and Shaanxi provinces. Li Yang the movie’s writer-director used back-door bribes and smash and grab camera techniques to film Blind Shaft which includes 50 hours of underground shoots. Also interesting, the movie was banned in China because it was made without permission from the official film bureau.
Blind Shaft is in Mandarin with English subtitles and runs 89 minutes.