The Mermaid/Mei Ren Yu (2016)

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)

the mermaid poster

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.

The Mermaid

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.

the mermaid

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.

The Mermaid

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? 

Netflix A-Z: Baby Blues (2013)

Next up, we’re at the B selection! This is kind of obscure choice and I don’t even know why I started it up in the first place. I might have been just something for background noise when I was typing up posts and then I fell short on time and thought it would be good to review it for the heck of it for this series. So, here we are with Baby Blues, a Hong Kong horror. There is one reason I rarely watch Hong Kong horror and that is because most of the time, its slightly lame. If a movie can’t scare me, then the movie is really bad because I get scared really easily.

Before we get to the review, I would like to say that for the rest of the month, I’m going to work extra hard to try and fit in as many 2015 movies as possible.  Which means that it’ll be trying to get some of the 2015 movies on Netflix.  It doesn’t mean that I’m preparing for awards season because most of those are probably still in theatres but I usually give it a fair run to try to catch up with a few more movies from the previous year just to feel a little more up to date. So, other than Netflix being in 2015 zone (as much as the selection allows me to), there will be more movie reviews than normal. I know that because as I’m drafting this, I’ve already watched several.

With that said, let’s check out Baby Blues!

Baby Blues (2013)

Baby Blues 2013

Director: Po-Chih Leong

Cast: Raymond Lam, Sing Kwan Janelle, Karena Ng, Kate Tsui, Hoi-Pang Lo

When a young couple moves into a home, they find a mysterious doll that changes their lives forever.-IMDB

First of all, I watched Baby Blues first, because I’m a serious blogger for movie reviews and I believe that I can’t judge a movie from just listening to it.  It was a good choice because as I did a little bit more research for the cast and whatnot, I realized that Baby Blues was originally released in 3D which explains why they did certain things. Second, I make it a point that I don’t keep dolls.  I mean, I like plush Disney toys or My Little Pony and you know, Funko Pop! figures and other collectibles but I’ve never owned a doll.  To be honest, they kind of freak me out. And this doll is freaking ugly.  In no world or universe would it be something left over from the previous owner, if I was buying a new place, that I would keep, especially knowing that Chinese people believe in reincarnation and that spirits can hide in absolutely anything.  So, you know what, Baby Blues was bound to fail from the start for me because I can’t even extend my belief to that.  Except, I went through with it because you know what, it deserves a chance.  After all, it did have Raymond Lam and he is a talented Hong Kong series actor that I do quite like. Then, Kate Tsui pops up, who is also a popular Hong Kong TV actress. So I continued on, hoping that at some point it would be good.  Except it didn’t….

Baby Blues

**Spoiler alert (for this paragraph)**

Oh My Gosh, was this so bad! It didn’t have anything to do with the cast.  It was just the story was so dumb and ridiculously lame. Right from the get-go, picture this, you move in, and make some sweet love with your husband and then look up and the freaking doll is standing at your doorway.  They just chuckle, ignore it and get back right to the action. Excuse me! The doll was crying tears of blood! Are you crazy? I’d have postponed the love-making and tossed the damn doll into the fire before getting back to it. Okay, I take a deep breath and I go along with this.  The characters know nothing about this but as we watch this, they start making crazy decisions, the wife gets pregnant and has twins, one of them are a stillborn and she gets baby blues and starts hallucinating that the doll is her other child. In between all this, every time something goes wrong, this doll haunts them and we, the audience know that, because it starts adding in a normal evil laugh and it spins around pointing its finger and through its eyes, we can see who its trying to manipulate. At the same time, the old man across the street keeps telling them to move and that if they have twins, they are in danger.  They never ask for the reasoning and just laugh at him. Not to mention, the doll has moving mechanisms so it even has the strength to push a baby across the floor as it walks. *rolls eyes*

Baby Blues

The actors do what they can with the script. I can promise you that.  Its the crappy effects and the lame doll and the nonsensical story that makes it so hard to feel any immersion into Baby Blues. I’ve seen a few Hong Kong horrors and this one definitely ranks way at the bottom of the barrow.  What boggles my mind is why Raymond Lam and Kate Tsui took this project on? They could be doing a thousand better things with their talent, but then, it could be just the fault of the crumbling Hong Kong entertainment industry (but that is a discussion for another day). If there was one good thing, it was the last hurrah against the doll.

Overall, Baby Blues is a really bad movie.  Its a horror that makes you laugh, a thriller that makes you bored, and a drama that just falls flat.  I can understand why they made the doll point its fingers if it was for the 3D effects but it seemed pointless in 2D so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference with all the nonsense it packs into approximately 90 mins run time. I’m not usually so harsh on movies but I know that Hong Kong entertainment can do better than this and it angers me that something like this even exists to waste our time.

Have you seen Baby Blues? What are your thoughts?