Look at me! Back to back new movies! Because I’ve being frequenting the theatres more this week, today’s Netflix A-Z is postponed to next Tuesday. I don’t go see movies with my mom a lot, mostly because she falls asleep when she goes into a dark space like a theatre but she was really interested in seeing The Mermaid once she knew one of the theatres here was showing it. For those who don’t know, The Mermaid is currently the highest grossing movie of China. It is directed and produced by Stephen Chow and boasts one of the most captivating mermaid depictions. Hearing this, you know, I can’t exactly skip it over. 😉
The Mermaid (2016)
Director: Stephen Chow
Cast: Chao Deng, Yun Lin, Show Luo, Yuqi Zhang, Ivan Kotik, Hark Tsui
The Mermaid (aka Mei Ren Yu) is story about rich real estate developer, Liu Xuan (Chao Deng) who buys the entire Green Gulf to open his biggest resort. However, to do this, he places a sonar in the water to repell and drive away all the sea animals living there. One of these species are the merfolks. In an act to revenge and stop him, they send their young beauty Shan (Yun Lin) to kill him. In a turn of events, they fall in love but not without divulging the existence of mermaids and their home. How will he choose: Love or money?
In interviews, Stephen Chow has explained his love for fairy tales and this how he does this one. The Mermaid is an ultimate fairy tale that spans through being a comedy, romance, fantasy and action. How many people can say that they can make it work? Not a lot. But he did. The Mermaid is well deserved to be the highest grossing movie in China. The imagination, passion and details in this are impeccable. Stephen Chow may be my ultimate hero ever in movies but I have reservations on some of his previous directorial pieces but this one was entertaining, fun, and thrilling. Especially so if you know his filmography well because there are nods to some of his previous work and the style is Classic Stephen Chow. What works well is that the story is simple and yet the script is done so well to bring a lot of his classic absurd humor but still bring out the love for the characters he brings alive on screen, making it incredibly fun to watch.
I’m not as familiar with China movie industry as I am with Hong Kong. I know the division shouldn’t be there but the quality of movies have always had a distance. However, when the production is done together, it usually does boast a certain level of quality. With this one, the leading actress Yun Lin is a young actress and this is her first movie. This is a good choice because she brings out a level of innocence that mermaids unknown to the humans on land have. There’s a naivety and simpleness to her that makes her funny when met with the incredibly sly Liu Xuan. While I am unfamiliar to the industry, I have seen Chao Deng before. Where? I can’t remember exactly but he’s been in the business for some time as well. He carries a style and he can carry the pretty and sly playboy real estate developer that is ambitious and ruthless and really doesn’t care for much but money. The chemistry that builds between Liu Xuan and Yun Lin may be awkward and over the top but highly entertaining to watch.
Other than him, we have cameos from a few actors that you will be familiar with if you’ve seen Kung Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer. There’s a little bit of Tsui Hark that does a small role in The Mermaid. The evil jealous rich lady here is pretty good also and man, does she look all sorts of villainous. Stephen Chow also got huge acting veteran Adam Cheng and a singer/actress (who was in God of Cookery) to do one of the theme songs for a quite renowned Cantonese song.
What was surprising to me was the addition of Taiwanese pop star/TV drama superstar, Show Luo. I remember a few years back when I was watching Taiwanese TV series that he was so great and some of my favorite ones till today are with him part of the cast. Its refreshing to see him being his silly self and excelling at it even more than before. He grasps the role of being the octopus so well. He is absolutely comedic insert here. I’d have to say that 80% of his parts are purely roll on the floor laughing quality.
I’ve mentioned over and over again that humor and comedies are hard to achieve because different people have different types of comedy that they enjoy. For me, Stephen Chow and his style works the best for me. I call it absurd but I believe what some would call slapstick. Although I can’t say for sure because I understood the film in its original language, but many of the humor is in reactions and not in words and that helps transcend through language which I think shouldn’t be a problem (even if the subtitles have their little translation problems here and there). I’m sure another review will shed on the effectiveness of the humor.
I could talk about The Mermaid forever from production design to cast to humor to characters to just about anything, but The Mermaid has so much merit for being simple, fun and taking you into a fairy tale. This production video is in Chinese but it shows a lot of how it was constructed and whatnot. It talks about the 3D challenges and the meticulous detail and standards and also the dedication Stephen Chow had about getting this exactly how he envisioned it.
Overall, The Mermaid is a must-see. I’d be surprised if it didn’t land on my Top 5 by the end of the year (if I did one of those). Stephen Chow’s direction and vision is definitely one of his best. The Mermaid is done so well. The story is a simple fairy tale and its a ton of fun to watch with a huge amount of hilarious moments. I love it so much. Talking about it gives me the desire to see it a second time.
Have you seen The Mermaid?