By Pascal Grenier (for Cinetalk.net)
More than a decade after the world-wide success of Kung Fu Hustle, Sony pictures has reunited with Chinese actor-director Stephen Chow for the North American release of his new comedy The Mermaid. Since opening in his country on Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day (February 8), this modern action fantasy comedy has shattered box office records all over Chinese territories.
“MĚI RÉN YÚ (The Mermaid)” is the tale of a mermaid (Jelly Lin) who falls for the evil business tycoon (Deng Chao) she’s been sent to seduce and assassinate.
A sort of like a fairytale with heavy (and pretty simplistic) pro-ecological message, The Mermaid made a splash at the Box Office, but it’s really hard to understand why this film had such a tremendous success so far. With this 10th feature film as a director, this is easily Stephen Chow’s weakest effort to date. The film has a few funny moments but it lacks the famous mo lei tau (his non-sensical cantonese humour that was his trademark as a comedian). As a lead, Chinese-born young star Deng Chao (Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame) lacks the timing and charm of a younger Stephen Chow.
Shot in mandarin with a heavy dose of digital and CGIs effects, The mermaid mixes between the romance, environmental message, slapstick and action/fantasy doesn’t suit the film’s general feel even though it was meant as pure entertainment. Even in this sole aspect, the film is mildly amusing.