Wednesday, 24 February 2016
The Mermaid (4 Stars)
I'm happy that Cineworld in Birmingham has decided to show more Chinese films. This is the fourth Chinese film in four weeks, and I hope that there will be more. The film that made the difference was "Ip Man 3". It was shown for two days at Christmas, but it was such a success that it was brought back for another two weeks in January, something I have never before seen at Cineworld. I went to see it again at the end of the second week, and the cinema was still packed, most of the viewers being young Chinese people. There's a large Chinese community in Birmingham, and now Cineworld management has woken up to the fact that they can make money by showing Chinese films. "From Vegas to Macau 3", "Monkey King 2" and "The Mermaid" followed in quick succession.
"The Mermaid" is a film directed by Stephen Chow, well known for his zany comedies like "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle". Usually he also appears as an actor in his films, but not this time.
The film's plot is serious, very serious indeed, but it's presented as a comedy with repeated slapstick scenes. Liau Xuan is a Chinese billionaire who wants to make a holiday theme park to rival Disneyworld. He buys an off shore gulf for the project, which he intends to reclaim from the sea. Fearing a reaction from conservationists if he kills fish by lowering the sea level in the gulf, he places underwater sonars to drive away the marine life. Unknown to him, the gulf is home to a tribe of merpeople. The sonars don't drive them away, it makes them sick and kills many of them. They decide to protect themselves by sending a beautiful mermaid called Shan to the surface to seduce and kill Xuan. He can't resist Shan's charms, and the plan looks like it would succeed, except for one little problem. Shan falls in love with Xuan and is unable to kill him.
This is a fantasy epic that ticks all the right boxes. Action, big budget special effects, romance and an enviromental message, all coated with ridiculous comedy.