Xuan's estate project involving reclamation of the sea threatens the livelihood of the mermaids who rely on the sea to survive. Shan is dispatched to stop Xuan and this leads them into falling for each other. Out of his love for Shan, Xuan plans to stop the reclamation. Unfortunately, Shan and the other mermaids are hunted by a hidden organisation and Xuan has to save Shan before it's too late...Written by
How Stephen Chow is getting 1 billion Chinese to watch "The Cove(2009)"
Stephen Chow is known for his consummate ability to pay homage AND lampoon his cinematic influences to a degree which exploitation film "auteurs" like Quentin Tarantino can only dream of.
And since moving his movie productions to mainland China in the 22nd century-- beginning with Shaolin Soccer(2001) --Stephen Chow has been earning new fans and losing old ones as he increased his presence behind the camera and broadened the range of his film subjects, all the while showing up all the lame Chinese directors and scriptwriters still using mainland Chinese censorship as an excuse for their inability to tell a coherent story with a meaningful message for more mature audiences.
But now, after Stephen Chow has paid homage to and parodied the horrors of "The Shining(1980)" with "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons(2013)", he has even gone so far as to pay homage and parody the ecological documentary "The Cove(2009)" in a mainstream romantic-comedy and urban fantasy using a modern Chinese setting.
Structurally speaking, "The Mermaid(2016)" is basically "Lust, Caution(2007)" + "The Cove(2009)" (fans of Disney or Han Kristian Andersen, please see yourselves out)-- but tonally it remains a Stephen Chow slapstick-comedy and social farce, complete with a no-surprise "tacked-on" ending.
So this is one of Stephen Chow's more "indie" projects, like "CJ7(2008)", where the "big moments" are few and far between-- but therein lies his genius: the movie sails by so smoothly that Chinese audiences did not even realize that the last Chinese legends about folks who were half-human and half-fish were recorded in the "Mountains And Seas Classic" over 2000 years ago... cos the scene-stealing Grandmistress Mermaid (appearing to strains of traditional Chinese music) could not have appeared anywhere else but in a Stephen Chow movie (made/set in mainland China).
The only real criticisms that can be made about this movie are the ones that were also leveled at "Monkey King: Hero is Back(2015)" last year: it's too short, too simple, and it's production values too mediocre (for a "blockbuster" movie)-- but why do you think audiences left theaters wanting more (story/character)? Stephen Chow "gets it" that movies are not really about how much effects work/ world-building or how many twists/ ideas you can stuff in them, but just how much you need to do so that the audiences "get it".
Personally, I am glad that Stephen Chow gave up on the Hong Kong/ International market and is just making movies that he has a genuine interest in-- cos when a mermaid/ merman asks in genuine confusion/ frustration: "what's the point if there's not a drop of clean water left?" or "who gave you the right to destroy our homes?"... I realized I've just been preached to in the most "natural" way possible.
Recommended for those who have heard of, but are too "cool", too "chicken", or too "clever" to watch "The Cove(2009)"
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