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This year's Chinese New Year is packed with Festive Films, from Monkey
King 2, Vegas to Macau 3 to Mermaid.
After watching all 3 of them, I have decided to only write a review for Mermaid because it is the only one worth the effort and time.
The great thing about Mermaid is that while it is a comedy that brings the whole family together, it manages to bring in an underlying plot that teaches us important values about ecosystem and a life lesson about money and materialism.
While not on par with Chow's masterpiece like Kung Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer, Mermaid is better than Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. The slapstick style of comedy of Chow is evident throughout the movie, and the laughter by the audiences can be heard echoing throughout the cinema halls.
A number memorable scenes provide some of the biggest laughs such as when Shan made numerous botched attempts to assassinate Liu Xuan with various means and weapons from the sea.
Newcomer Jelly Lin is the latest in a long line of "Stephen's Girls". Chow has the knack of discovering an illustrious list of talented actresses that include Karen Mok, Cecilia Cheung, and Vicky Zhao. Lin is the latest muse to channel Chow's range of rubber-faced physical comedy and deadpan delivery of killer lines. Jelly Lin is reportedly cast from auditions with over 10,000 hopefuls.
While this film will not play extremely well with critics, it undoubtedly will have a good word-of-mouth as it is an entertaining movie with the right balance of humour, touching moments and good acting.
After watching so many movies is this Chinese New Year, I can say that Mermaid is easily the best movie of them all.
I look forward to Stephen Chow's next movie, and the opportunity for him to step in-front of the camera once more.
"Mermaid," a science fiction comedy directed by Stephen Chow, tells a
modern fairy tale with adult jokes and restricted blood scenes while
never losing the genius comedian's charm.
It is the story of a playboy businessman (Deng Chao) who falls in love with a mermaid (Lin Yun) who had been sent to assassinate him. The plot line seems to be a mix of "Lust, Caution," an erotic espionage thriller directed by Ang Lee and "The Cove," a 2009 documentary film directed by Louie Psihoyos.
It also has an environmental protection theme, as Chow gets the mermaid to declare, "if there's no clean water to drink and no clean air to breathe, what can you do with all this useless money?" It reflects Chow's ambition and vision to tackle an issue of global concern. Actually, he used the same words when he attended the annual local session of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Guangdong.
Deng Chao, notorious for his previous low-rated and flatulent comedy performance, benefits well from Chow's direction. This should remind people of his great acting skills and even earned him a Best Actor Award at the Shanghai International Film Festival in 2015.
Lin Yun, as a new actress, also flourishes under Chow's guidance. However, as she proclaimed in a dialogue line at one point in the film, "I'm not a professional actress, I can't do it," she still has a long way to go.
The comedy partly comes from the weird, ugly and distinct supporting actors cast by Chow, as he has done before. Taiwan singer Show Lo, who plays an "octopus mermaid", is some kind of incarnation of Chow, evoking most laughter from the audiences.
Though the director does not take part in any of the acting, it's obvious he has clearly taught every cast member, no matter whether they are leading actors or supporting ones, to act like him and follow his vision. In many behind-the-scenes clips, Chow actually acts until cast members can mimic him.
"Mermaid" also has some dark and cruel scenes that are not appropriate for children to watch, and the special effects are far from stunning and satisfying. Chow even used many classic Chinese music compositions that have appeared in his classic movies before, such as "Daring General" to put the seal on the film with his own characteristics.
It is no wonder some critics called the film a mere repetition of old and clichéd tricks and offering no groundbreaking progress in his artistic evolvement. However, this is still the Chow many have loved.
The film has a simple and strong message to deliver: Love can transcend race and other barriers. You could hardly expect to see such a pure fairy tale and such a clean theme in blockbusters for a long time, but Chow has done it with a pure and childlike heart. He seeks to the complicated into the simple, trying hard to make it beautiful and understandable.
* My review is also selected and published on China.org.cn.
This may not be a Stephen Chow masterpiece.
It is not because this is a bad movie, it is simply because Stephen Chow has set a very high standard in classic like Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin soccer.
Comparing to what is available in the cinemas since beginning of the year, this movie fares well. Complicated movie like Hateful 8 may be critic's favorite, but this movie does what a movie fundamentally should do, that is to entertain its audience.
Stephen Chow prove yet again a good director needs just to able to tell his story well, to make a good movie.
His visual sense is driven, not by a need to appear artistic and confusing, but to resonate with audiences.
The result, a well made movie that is entertaining and a simple story told well by a gifted film maker.
Chow has a gift for spotting talent and using them well.
Not only he is brave in casting a newcomer to lead role.
He is able to spot the that Deng Chao (better know as the Running Man) will be perfect as a comic male lead.
He is likable, even when he is acting like a greedy spoil rich brat. He certainly oozes charisma.
Under Chow's direction, he is able to master the act of comic timing and delivery. Best scene has to be the "failed assassination scene" where the interplay between Jelly (mermaid) and Deng Chao result in a stomach ripping experience for the audience.
I used to think his wife (Sun Li) is the only credible actress in his family, after watching Deng's performance here, I am convinced he is more than a Running Man.
Nice movie, better than I expected. The film's main message is about saving the environment. Scenes can be quite disturbing as they show real life footage of marine animals like dolphins being caught, sea birds covered in oil and the attack on the merpeople... There was lots of comedic moments throughout the film as expected. Special effects were obviously not as realistic as Hollywood films. Movie storyline started off light-hearted then gradually become grim. Shows how greed can destroy our world. Last few scenes made me cry. Love the way they portrayed the relationship between the mermaid and the guy. 7/10 stars. Several inappropriate scenes not suitable for children.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Mermaid feels like a mix of random elements. I'll start off with
the good; I did laugh at some parts. This movie is selling itself to be
a Comedy through some advertisements and I believe the script handles
the comedic actions well. Also the cast ensemble helped pull some of
the funny aspects in the film as well. The first 2/3 of the film could
be enjoyed merely as a Comedy; just something to have fun with and
nothing really to over criticize or to over examine to the point of
The last 1/3 is where this movie messes up; I mean really messes up. From comedy this film turned towards a very dark direction; showing the effects of us humans to nature as well as environmental issues, the film is even bold enough to exhibit real life footage of animals dying and being slaughtered and destruction of sea habitat. There's a lot of violence and blood, all the comedic atmosphere present in the first 2/3 suddenly wiped off and the result becoming a serious, imminent warning.
Here's the thing; I don't mind dark elements being mixed in with humor. But the way it's done here makes us ponder what this film, in the end as an entirety, really wants to be because the way the light and dark are meshed in together here isn't done very well honestly. It felt random and the addition of the CGI (which I personally believe was poor) didn't help the serious undertone of the film trying to promote the protection of animal life and their ecosystem. Instead it made the film look goofy.
So there's a romance in this film regarding the main character and the mermaid. First, it looked completely unrealistic since the chemistry came absolutely out of nowhere with the 2 characters dating all of a sudden (plus the random marriage proposal some days after they met). And in the end, the main character decided to help "save the environmental life" by donating all of his money and from destroying it he suddenly changed character to wanting to preserve it. The reason behind this was just because of his undying love for the mermaid which is part of that environmental life; I find that preposterous. There can be a lot of other reasons this film could tell us in its message on why to stop destroying ecosystems that can sound far more convincing and realistic instead of some stupid romance that has no chemistry or any of the sort.
I'll commend this film for some of the humor it showed in the first 2/3 and how it tried to show environmental issues, but in the end, The Mermaid felt like wasted potential since the mix of the serious drama and the comedy didn't really work well. It felt unorthodox and wholly unrealistic especially when we look at how it portrayed several elements throughout.
Stephen Chow is one of my favorite directors in China, I have seen many
wonderful films directed by him like KongFu Hustle, ShaoLin soccer.
An outstanding characteristic of Chow's film is tricking of comedy ( I don't know how to describe that style accurately).
However, this film, The Mermaid, is very different compared to the other two mentioned above. To conclude it in a sentence, that is a wonderful mixture of comedy, love, science fiction and environment.
Environmental protection is heavy point of this film, but unlike many other directors, Stephen Chow shows it in another way, which is love and comedy.
This film inherit many characteristics in Chow's old films, like 'XiaoQiang' and 'WangCai' and so on. Though Language comedy has intrinsically regional difference, many tricks can be conveyed from the simple actuation.
Stunts seem to be an fatal drawback of Chinese films, may be investment is the major problem. But stunts in this film is very nice, e.g. the tail of octopus and arresting of the mermaid under water.
Overall, this is a wonderful movie which will catch heart of a very general range of audience. I strongly recommend it.
I started to like Stephen Chow's movies since Shaolin Soccer. In order to maximise my enjoyment, I go for this movie without reading any reviews, especially from those who are always quick to write a review like a book. Anyway, I can trust that a Stephen Chow movie needs no reviews and quality is guaranteed. So being impressed with the poster, I set my hopes high. In order not to spoil anyone's fun, I will not describe the story or details. Generally, one can see that Stephen Chow's aim in this movie is to smash all China's box office and he did it successfully, with some good messages as usual; about love, humanity and environmentally friendly here, filled with romance, comedy, action and even a good old song. What else do you need for a movie to sell well ? Nothing else. For China audience who have not seen too much of Stephen Chow and where people do not have too high demand on artistic values, they are sure to enjoy it very much. For me, I don't like this style of "mo-lei-tao" comedy and I find them too much here. Much of the jokes are also old and predictable, although done in a good way. The male and 2 female leads are good. Most of the other supporting casts are poor. The 2nd male lead just cannot act and his face just don't match the role. Using that great classic HK song from the 80s is obviously to please the Chinese but made the movie less creative. This movie don't deserve any awards unless they give it for the same reasons like Titanic. Overall, I find this movie not as good as his last 4 because it doesn't give me much surprises.
One of the most visible traits from Stephen Chow is his lead female is
always quirky and far from generic beauty, thus the mermaid here is
definitely not your average princess. The style of mixing comedy and
drama is incredibly and bizarrely compelling, often depicting light
nuance and then jarring grim tone hand-in-hand. However, it works
perfectly for the drama as well as delivering its eco-friendly message
with approachable means.
Liu Xuan (Chao Deng) is a businessman who ruins environment for profit, little did he know that a group of mermaid is hell bent on stopping him. It's a rather simple build up, although the simplicity is strikingly presentable. This is a love story that is littered with silly antics in expense of its own characters. It's nicely done without being too cheesy and having good female lead Yun Lin as Shan who is adorably unlike supermodel can be uniquely charming.
The comedy is spot-on, as expected from Stephen Chow. His signature stupid series of unfortunate events are ridiculously infectious and effective in delivering laughter. Those wanting classic slapstick from Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle will not be disappointed. Its transition from comedy to drama and even slight horror can be jarring, but no one does it better than Stephen Chow. The mixed tone plays smoothly, sometimes having sad and funny moments at the same scene.
Unfortunately, it's not without flaws. Its usage of CGI can be sketchy, Chinese film has a certain juvenile style of CG, which might fit some movies theme, but here it is often poorly done. Still, the movie plays its nature premise pretty well, using it as subplot and also an integral part of the movie.
The unique fairy tale is attractive in its own way, with slapstick humor and oddly riveting drama.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Mermaid, or Mei Ren Yu in Chinese, is not just any romance and
fantasy film, it's a film that blends together it's elements into a
mixture of smart writing, strange moments and brilliant performances
from the cast. All to deliver its timely environmental messages as well
as entertaining the audiences simultaneously. Although I have not seen
many Chinese movies, this one is truly no ordinary Chinese film. I had
a very good time with the film, not only did it cheer me up with its
irresistible humor, but I learned so much from the film while I was
enjoying myself and having a good laugh while watching the film.
The film weaves together a funny, brilliant, sometimes violent, powerful, and timely story about protecting the environment. Rather than using just drama or seriousness to express its important themes, it also uses comedy to do so while entertaining us. I have to say that I am a person who never laughs at explicit and black humor, and therefore there were moments that I wouldn't laugh at when a piece of media or a line of words spoken by a person in reality (there is not much of pitch black rude humor in the film, but maybe just a little bit.). But, man, for a person who doesn't like comedy, this film's humor really let this boy have a great time while injecting an important lesson of environmental preservation and the significance of protecting marine life.
Does anyone believe that there are Mermaids out there? I'm not sure of my answer to that question that I have just mentioned myself, but I was definitely a fan of the story of "The Little Mermaid" by Danish Author Hans Christian Anderson, as well as Disney's 1989 Musical Film Adaption of it. This 2016 film also features a story about mermaids, and it, like the original story by Hans Christian Anderson and Disney's 1989 film adaptation, has the key element of romance within. But this film used the romance element in its story as a catalyst to strengthen the timely messages that it wants to tell it's audiences.
The story (which I shall not spoil at all and leave it to the new audiences to discover the film's "Treasures" themselves instead) is about a beautiful mermaid lady named Shan (brilliantly played by actress Lin Yun), who is sent by her kind to seduce a rich businessman, but falls in love with him instead. Love is a powerful thing, it can bypass many barricades. And I while I am aware of the dangers of it, I am even more aware of the even deeper dangers and consequences of violence, and this doesn't exclude violence against other animals besides us humans. As a vegetarian, I deeply appreciated and applauded the environmental messages that this strange but funny fantasy live action film wished to impart to me and the rest of its audiences.
How much I laughed at the film's comedic moments, most of which was, pretty much, harmless. Except perhaps for the moments of animal bodies present I wouldn't appreciate it much. As I have told you, a vegetarian I am. Where did I tell you? In the paragraph above this one. Anyway, for Chinese audiences (I am one of them) I am certain that it would appeal very well to. No matter which kind of audience you are, you will definitely laugh at the film's irresistible humor and enjoy yourselves in the process. I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot of important lessons from the "Fun" that I had.
I smiled a lot, and I think you would, too. Even if you're reading the subtitles written in English(The film's spoken language is Chinese). I watched it on DVD, and after completing my first viewing of the film I had the wish of visiting the film again in the future to view its important messages alongside of its entertainment qualities once again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When you know who is director you will know this movie gonna be
laughable. Like Stephen Chow always do, don't expect the "GIRL" is
normal and normally will be happy ending.
Fun is how they keep humiliate Lin Yun in the movie, like small eyes, baby fat etc etc. May be that is the way you protect your artiest been attack by public after the movie been release. Cause as you know Chinese people jealousy are damn high.By the way, this movie proved Show Luo not just can sing well and dance well, he also can act well in comedy movie.
About the plot, you may have some old story. A guy meet a girl, thought that girl must be same like other girl. However is not, he fall in love in her but doesn't know she was try to kill him and BLA BLA BLA.
Talking about CG, it do look terrible in trailer. However it was acceptable in movie theater, not too bad. Just don't compare the CG in Hollywood. Anyway the background setup in the ship scene is excellent.
For me the laughable joke is when Lin Yun try to kill Chao Deng, having roasted chicken and singing the classical Cantonese song. Lastly is Show Luo legs been cut off for cooking or by Lin Yun.
The last 20 min in the movie was take my breath away, all the ship chasing, hunting, shooting, magical fish tail attack, escaping was marvelous. Is a great movie and should go theater watch it.
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