Friday, 12 February 2016

Movie Review: The Mermaid (美人鱼)

Stephen Chow, once a well-known Hong Kong actor in the 1990s with roles in classics like Fight Back to School series (1991-1993), Hail the Judge (1994), A Chinese Odyssey Part 1 and 2 (1995 and 1996), The Mad Monk (1993), King of Comedy (1999), God of Cookery (1996), Forbidden City Cop (1996), Lawyer Lawyer (1997), etc. He made lots of movies that filled with his signature nonsensical 'mou-lei-tau' (无厘头) comedic jokes. Soon, he went on to direct well-received films like Shaolin Soccer (2001) and Kung fu Hustle (2004). However, his recent two films  CJ7 (2008) and Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons (2013) just weren't as good as expected. So is this movie as good as (or better) than his previous works?

The Mermaid (美人鱼) is a film that comes with lots of comedic moments that guarantees to provide some big laughs to the audience. Moreover, it's also filled with environmental messages of concern for all life and a critique of the materialism in Asian culture. Although still not on the same level with Stephen's Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, it's certainly better than his other recent twos (CJ7 and Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons).

Thankfully, its message about the importance of conserving our environment is not too preachy and conveyed well enough without any annoyance. The romance between the two main leads didn't seem to be too over-the-top. However, the biggest complain would be the film's "problematic" lip syncing (common issue with all the recently released Chinese film productions). The mouth movements from the casts don't seem to match the Cantonese audio language. It seems as if it was done for cost reasons as using dubbing rather than capturing live sounds from the casts are considerably cheaper as it allows producers to forego expensive sound equipment and sound engineers to do the job. It could also seem to be filmed in Mandarin language as well (opposed to the Stephen's native Cantonese).

As usual, just like his other films, Stephen casts another relatively new young actress, Jelly Lin as the mermaid in this film as well. There are many recurring actors and actresses from his previous films starred in this one. However, please take note that the CGI effects presented in this film is not as realistic as recent Hollywood films, so please adjust your expectations before watching it. Overall, it's a well-told fairy tale that delivers in providing some decent laughs to the whole family this Chinese New Year.

Rating: 7/10

Note: It's way better than the other two CNY festive films: Monkey King 2, From Vegas to Macau 3. 

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