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Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Straight into my brain mush, if you please. You should be careful what you wish for, especially if you wish for crap. And me wishing to watch more big budget mainland films lands me in the middle of it. Now, I am not gunning for the kind of films that play at Cannes, but those that never see the light of day in the Western world. To see what Chinese people really like to watch. Some warnings should have been clear, though. On my flight to Shanghai, around six months ago, I struggled through Little Big Soldier. It starred Jackie Chan and so my brain cells told me that this just had to be BRILLIANT. Brain cells lie. Granted I did see this on a tiny airplane monitor, but I could still see that the film lacked any life whatsoever, a dull brown-gray being the only colour present. I wondered if I really had to suffer through this. Of course I didn’t. So, I looked for the next big thing, Confucius, starring Chow Yun Fat. So it had to be brilliant. Don’t let the Fat fool you. This guy is a bad ass of Hong Kong Cinema action flicks and so, of course, I was expecting Confucius to blow something up or dive through a kitchen shooting up everything in sight, right until he gets up close to his enemy, presses his gun against the guy’s forehead and then wonder why his gun just clicked out of ammo…just like in real life. So the film tries to follow a more realistic route…maybe…by depicting Confucius as the ultimate wise man. Always calm, his words are always deep and he is always right. We are reminded this by what seem to be a mixture of the Jesus’ disciples and the seven dwarves. A stewardess took my headset before I could get further, but the film still left me feeling very empty inside and bored. Look at Lust Caution by Ang Lee, which opens with a group of wealthy women in Shanghai playing a game of Mahjong, gossiping and exchanging barbed comments with smiles. I decided I needed to see a good film in the cinema. Something that would blow me away and put a smile on my face. Something that would reaffirm that Chinese films can be great. So I looked at a poster for Let the Bullets Fly. A mainland action flick, with Chow Yun Fat and even Feng Xiaogang (whose brilliance I will come to in a later post). So, this film had to be brilliant. Obviously. Feng Xiaogang, a usually funny actor, plays a slimy crook on his way to a city to impersonate its incoming mayor. On the way, while singing painfully (for me, not him) he gets attacked by a bunch of bandits (very painful for him) and instead of killing him, the bandit leader decides to impersonate the mayor himself so that he can more money in the end. This is all exposition, no real acting, just people discussing plot and doing said plot, with blank expressions or whiny ones. Sometimes they try for angry ones too! Anyway, people then begin to talk and plot, including Mr. Fat, who plays theĀ villainĀ of this film, but who spends his time talking to his dumber double, giving out evil orders to his henchmen. Jiang Wen, who plays the bandit leader, turned actor/impersonator, then loses his adopted son in an attack. We know this means a lot to him because he tells the young man so and then basically tells the audience so too. Almost like he’s describing his lines with a tear in his eye. What follows is the one forgiving scene of the movie. The bandits line up and speak into the camera, their words directed to their friend’s grave. This scene was funny. My mandarin is not good enough to get ‘real’ Chinese comedies, but this scene worked as the Chinese are good at deadpan comedy, and the things that came out of those gangster’s mouths were gold.

But the film fails in other moments. Later, a woman is raped in front of her husband and the two demand justice, only to be laughed at by the audience and brushed off by the characters in the film, and I sat there experiencing a real WTF moment. I have a twisted sense of humour. I’ve been told its an acquired taste that one needs to slowly get used to it before being able to laugh at the weird stuff that pours out of my mouth. In fact, people end up laughing at me than with me. The humour in this scene was beyond my ability to grasp, but it was laughed at and forgotten, just another ploy to move the plot to its next point. And later another character dies and her death is yet another moment to laugh at. I love dark comedies, but there was a monumental failure at humour here. There were English subtitles present and the kind of jokes weren’t the ones involving complex word play, just bad taste.

The film reached its climax point…and then passed it by, with the actors waiting around to provoke the other without just going head to head for an exciting finale. Or maybe they did, but I wouldn’t know. I left for the toilet, and returned to the cinema door and was so utterly bored by this film that I preferred to go for a walk. I never need to finish this film. This reminds me of when I saw the Return of the King in Thailand. The film was brand spanking new, and I was going to rupture, so I HAD to leave the theatre, run across a huge shopping mall to the toilets and sprint back to my seat. At the time I lived in Zimbabwe, so, I knew I had to wait 6 to 8 months before the film would land there and I could finally get those minutes back. That thought pained me. Never mind the fact that I’d read the books a few times. Missing one scene was blasphemy.

imdb had a reviewer compare this film to Inception, which is like me throwing dog faeces onto graffiti and calling myself Picasso. Don’t waste your money, or the precious minutes of your life on this.

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