The former Soviet Union is so down on its economic luck that it can no longer maintain Lenin’s embalmed body. A brash official from rural China called Liu Yingque decides to buy the deteriorating corpse, create a red tourist attraction in his own county, and so make the area rich beyond its wildest dreams. Liu’s only difficulty is finding the millions of yuan necessary to purchase Lenin.
He soon hits upon a solution: he recruits a performing troupe from nearby Liven, a village in which every resident is disabled in some way, and dispatches them on a nationwide fundraising tour. The travelling freakshow — featuring deaf-mutes exploding firecrackers next to their ears, children with polio-wasted legs running about the stage on broken glass, one-legged men jumping over beds of nails and seas of fire — becomes a runaway success, and within a year Liu has the money to pay off the Russians.