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Years ago my high school economics teacher held up a tin toy car with
It was the typical Japanese product of its day. "Beware of people who
do this," he
told us. The class did not understand his words until he turned the car
over to reveal
that it had been made from a Schlitz beer can. The rest of Japanese
production is history.
The movie Da wan (Big Shot's Funeral) carries a similar message. Though they may be behind, the Chinese can catch on quickly, particularly to the world of Madison Avenue as illustrated by this hilarious movie where hype and commercialism run amok. This movie reminds me of the 50's si/fi novel "Space Merchants" (Gravy Planet) by Pohl and Kornbluth in which an ad agency gets the exclusive rights to advertise products on the planet Venus. The unconscionable excess on both Venus and in China say much about us as consumers who would rather be entertained than informed.
Sutherland, always good, is excellent here. I am confident the low rating for this film is because of its subtitles, but they are not a bother and are part of the humor.
I don't know how anyone can fail to see - this satire is hip and wicked to
the bone. Not at all a mainstream Chinese production you would
The closest comparison for this baby would be to _Diva_, but for its viciously funny stab at dot-com money madness, there's no equal.
Within all the whirling satire, Donald Sutherland held down the movie's emotional anchor admirably. He made the movie more than just an average comedy. And the way director Feng used him showed me that China today can make films as sophisticated as any in the world. He made Zhang Yimou and Ang Lee look utterly out-of-date and irrelevent.
It you plan to see this movie because you love Hong Kong Action, you will
probably be disappointed. When I saw it some young kids left the cinema in
the middle of the movie, since no one had been killed or beaten up
For me this movie is more related to the American independent movie scene. The script is well written, the actors are excellent and the movie comments our society and life/death in general. Most of all it is a really fun movie. Totally unpredictable, totally wild at times, deep and philosophical at times, all in all the best comedy I have seen for at least a year!
I recommend this movie to you!
'Da wan' is a charming Chinese (and sort of American) comedy that
centres around a cameraman Yoyo (Yu Ge) who's assigned to arrange a
funeral for a famous American director, Tyler and the director's
assistant, Lucy (Rosamund Kwan) helps Yoyo to complete the task. With
excellent cinematography and lighting, and beautiful set designs, it is
quite a visually likable. The humour isn't slapstick or like the toilet
humour so often seen in American films. It's part of the satirical
screenplay and mingles well with the plot.
Yu Ge is fantastic and he's hilarious without appearing 'obviously' funny. He brings out the character's honesty and naivety with conviction and is both identifiable and lovable to the viewers. Rosamund Kwan is charming and lovely. She and Yu Ge share a fine chemistry. And of course Donald Sutherland is great as usual. His scenes with both Ge and Kwan are endearing and funny.
Anyone interested in light comedy can pick this one but I'm not sure whether it'll appeal to all as the plot is a little different from the regular comedy...but I loved it.
I didn't believe the guy in the DVD shop down the street when he
recommended this "black comedy", I'm generally not a big fan of Chinese
humor. But he assured me that this was the first film of its kind in
China, and so I bought it in spite of my reservations. After watching
Big Shot's Funeral I'm really glad that I gave it a chance.
This movie was so much funnier than i thought it would be! First of all, it stars one of the best comic actors out there, You Ge (YoYo). He's got the deadpan delivery down pat. Second, the whole scenario of Sutherland's character as a director staging a new version of The Last Emperor was hilarious, from the eroticized woman ostensibly giving birth, to the child actor drinking his cola - subversively funny commentary on Orientalism and commercialism. Then we get to watch as YoYo completely immerses himself in planning a ridiculously extravagant funeral for a guy who a) he barely knows, and b) isn't dead yet! Seriously, that's a great comic premise in any language.
My main complaint about this film is Rosamund Kwan's character (Lucy). She just didn't seem to fit, and about halfway through the film I started to get really annoyed with her as her actions didn't seem to make any sense at all.
Not that this movie is really supposed to make sense, it's just that in the farcical scheme of things Lucy seemed to kill all the fun. The other thing is that the last 10 or 15 minutes of the film didn't really work at all; it's almost like the director couldn't figure out how to wrap things up so he just threw together a bizarre collection of scenes without bothering to relate them to the rest of the film. But these kinds of problems aren't a big deal in a movie that's not to be taken seriously in the first place. I would especially recommend it to foreign viewers who are only used to stuff by Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige; Big Shot's Funeral is a nice contrast to all those Very Serious movies set in the Very Distant past.
"Da Wan" is an absolutely brilliant satire. It portrays the onslaught of
Western and capitalist culture in China, movie studios' obsession with the
bottom-line as opposed to artistic merit, the fun and foibles of
cross-cultural exchange, and the often rough intersections of business and
identity. Car chases, explosions, and slick martial arts fight scenes are
not to be found in this gem of a film.
I highly recommend it!
This film won't give you belly aches, but it is still thoroughly amusing.
The acting is great on the most part, not overdone, simple and to the
Kwan is the only character to do some more exaggerated acting, the others
have no need for it.
The nice thing about this movie is that it seems to hover lightly over serious matters, and only wants to point out some of the insanity in modern day business. It actually comes off as not seeming very critical, you may come to your own conclusions. The satire remains friendly, the criticism is presented without the moral pointers. You've got the love the moment when Yo Yo snaps out one of the glasses from the shades the body is to wear, and puts a contact lens on the puppet's eye.
I won't dwell on the witty language, my grasp of Chinese is way too poor for that, trust the Chinese comments on that. I must say that while Chinese comedy is quickly approaching a standard of western stupidity (Marry a Rich Man, Chinese Odissey, etc.) this film stands out as witty and intelligent, and in no way deserves the poor scores it has received here.
I feel that this movie was successful on many levels, not least of
which being the natural movement in and out of Chinese and English - a
tribute to the bi-lingual and bi-cultural understanding of the writers
and actors. As a native speaker of both English and Mandarin, I never
felt the dialogue to be stilted and, I felt it was well written in both
languages. In fact, the writers and crew really brought to life the
cultural clashes of when East meets West in more obvious and subtle
ways to count. It would take a careful viewing with some very
culturally fluent Chinese viewers to pick out many of the inside jokes.
Da Wan also succeeds in weaving together many different comedic forms. Not only is there clever use of slapstick and physical comedy, the film wittily integrates satire, irony, farce and a very Chinese brand of buddy comedy. Here, You Ge shines as straight man to Da Ying. Likewise Rosamund Kwan brings a real subtlety to her role as a Chinese American falling slowly for You Ge's Chinese, Chinese character. Though the movie doesn't hit you over the head with this, it is yet another way in which the movie subtly brings in an East meets West conflict.
The only part I find overtly questionable is the ending - at points, it feels contrived, though I still feel that it is competently executed. Perhaps just a bit too conventional for a movie that I feel otherwise seems fresh and uncliched.
The film is not without its flaws. The aforementioned ending is an example.
Also, Donald Sutherland's role near the end leaves something to be desired.
The character doesn't quite behave believably. However, overall, I would highly recommend this film. Clever, witty and culturally intelligent, it's surprisingly good.
"Big Shot's Funeral" doesn't quite add up. First, if you dislike subtitles, look elsewhere, because 80% of the film is in Mandarin. Unfortunately, with Donald Sutherland featured on the DVD jacket, you could easily be mislead into thinking this was not a foreign film. The idea of a "sponsored funeral" is a good one, but unfortunately is beaten to death for 100 minutes, which is way too long for a one joke movie. I can't say I didn't laugh, but it was a real chore to keep up with the rapidly changing subtitles. Definitely has very limited re-watch value, and because of the language barrier, loses something in the translation. - MERK
Even there're so many people in the world can't understand what this movie will present, I still think it's a n amazing movie this century. Not every Chinese knows Kung-Fu, but every Chinese knows when to laugh loud in this movie. It's a brilliant comedy for everyone who knows Chinese culture well!!
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