[Film Review] The Mermaid (2016)

The Mermaid poster.jpg

English Title: The Mermaid
Original Title: Mei ren yu 美人鱼
Year: 2016
Country: China
Language: Mandarin
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Drama
Director: Stephen Chow 周星驰
Writers:
Stephen Chow 周星驰
Ho Moi-kei 何妙祺
Lu Zhengyu 卢正雨
Kelvin Lee 李思臻
Tsang Kan-cheung 曾瑾昌
Ivy Kong 江玉仪
Music: Raymond Huang 黄英华
Cinematography: Johnny Choi 蔡崇晖
Cast:
Deng Chao 邓超
Lin Yun 林允
Zhang Yuqi 张雨绮
Show Lo 罗志祥
Kris Wu 吴亦凡
Lu Zhengyu 卢正雨
Hark Tsui 徐克
Wen Zhang 文章
Lee Sheung-ching 李尚正
Fan Shuzhen 范淑珍
Zhang Mei’e 张美娥
Yang Neng 杨能
Lam Tze-chung 林子聪
Chiu Chi-ling 赵志凌
Tin Kai-Man 田启文
Ivan Kotik
Bai Ke 白客
Rating: 5.1/10

The Mermaid 2016.jpg

 

The 4th highest grossing film of all time in China to date ($525 million), Stephen Chow’s THE MERMAID flagrantly aims for the lowest common denominators, rehashes his comedic tropes saddled with a puerile ecological awareness, cookie-cutter characterization, and soul-destroying story-telling, while the hefty price-tagged FX is hardly serviceable.

A tall-tale pits the surviving tribes of merpeople against their omnipotent and ravening predator, humans, a young mermaid Shan (newcomer Lin Yun) is trained to imitate human mobility with her fins and infiltrates into a party held by real estate magnate, the bumptious parvenu/bachelor Liu Xuan (Deng Chao, strains to leaven his role’s repugnant design with some comic relief and muscular braggadocio), who recently gets the sea reclamation license of the Green Gulf in Hong Kong and has planted sonar system underwater to expel its sea creatures, unbeknownst to him, which wreaks havoc to the merpeople species, blatantly leaving Liu Xuan her phone number, Shan sets up a honey trap in order to kill him, but during her bumpy and fumbling attempt of assassination, the two inevitably fall in love, Liu is roused by the damage of his actions and redemption is right on the way, only his female business partner Ruolan (Zhang Yuqi, channeling a villainess’ bitchy front with somehow weaker elocution), who is piqued by Liu’s rejection of her advances, has a merciless plan to slaughter the remaining species in the name of scientific study.

The plot is overtly straight-forward without any intricacy to stimulate our engagement, with jocose snippets tailored to entertain Chow’s ravenous fans, it is only his fifth movie since the millennium, so being a Chinese, one has a perfect understanding of his works’ massive appeal, which is also significantly helped by its Spring Festival releasing slot. But it is disquieting to notice a downward spiral of creativity has been manifesting since KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004), would THE MERMAID be the nadir of his illustrious career or his last hurrah as a box office victor? Both might be too extreme at present, as many a great filmmaker before him, enjoys some sort of success by simply riding on the coattail of their previous works, Stephen Chow might be well tempted to do just that, yet, one whole-heartedly hopes he will not.

referential entries: Chow’s JOURNEY TO THE WEST (2013, 6.6/10), CJ7 (2008, 6.7/10), KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004, 8.0/10), Raman Hui’s MONSTER HUNT (2015, 4.3/10).

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