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La mort du Chinois (1998)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Passepont
Inspecteur Chevalot
Thierry Berges
Paul Minthe ...
Valérie Bonneton ...
Catherine Samie ...
Sylvie Joly ...
La patronne du bar
Bing Yin ...
Bekate, l'infirmier
Pascal Ternisien ...
Emmanuel Quatra ...
Le guitariste Zeng
Thierry Bosc ...
Le barman


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24 June 1998 (France)  »

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User Reviews

the death of a film
14 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

Michel (José Garcia) is a writer who pens books for children. Everything is fine in his well-regulated life until one day, his wife Hélène leaves for a Chinese lover. From then onwards, everything goes askew for Michel. He has to come to terms with a serious block and he's especially despondent by his wife's departure. One sole idea remains stuck on his mind: to find again this Chinese lover named Tong and kill him (hence the title of the film). Alas! Manipulated by some of his peers and abusing alcohol and drugs, the frontier between reality and imagination becomes increasingly thin and madness is around the corner...

It's really a shame when a film has a true potential or tries to renew a corny situation (here, the eternal love triangle with a man whom wife deceives him with her lover and he wants to slay him) and totally misses the point. When one watches this hare-brained film, one can guess Jean-Louis Benoît's intentions: to underline Michel's absurd actions and the ways tapped for this to find Hélène and Tong again, to depersonalize Michel and put him in the throes of madness. But it's well known: the best intentions in the world will never supersede a good film.

When one deciphers the story which would seem basically oddball, one notices that Benoît's film is an ill-conceived plan on several aspects. The absence of clarity and dramatic progression are blatant and the scenario is given a desultory treatment with some plot holes. For instance, Michel's editor is incensed by the ramblings stories his writer produces. The problem lies in the fact that we don't always see Michel writing the stories his editor talks about. Then, after Hélène left him with Tong, some Chinese removal men who often come out of the blue move Hélène's furniture and stuff. Why Michel doesn't ask them where Hélène is gone with Tong? Another negative point are the sequences with the policeman acted by François Berléand. Were they necessary for the plot? It's tempting to deem them as filler. And the absurd humor with which Benoît tries to shroud some parts of his movie (the moments when Michel searches his fiancée in unlikely places or with outlandish tricks) generally make these moments fall flat.

Another mistake involves the cast. There is a bevy of true actors here (Garcia, Denis Podalydès, Isabelle Carré) who can shine when they are perfectly guided. But here, it's glaring that the directing of actors isn't the director's forte. They overplay and mix up third-rate acting with humor. I strongly advise you to watch them elsewhere. For example, Denis Podalydès in his brother Bruno's films and if you think that José Garcia is bound to be exclusively typecast in comical roles, well you should have a look at "Extension Du Domaine De La Lutte" (1999), a deeply pessimistic work by Philippe Harel.

So, in the end, what's left in store: a wholly film which speaks volume about the level of input of its creator in his venture. Once again, an unfunny, shoddy film which doesn't make the viewer laugh constitutes a feat from its author.

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