Friday, February 06, 2015

Running Man

I wasn't going to see this. There was too much else I wanted to see in theaters as it was, and it seemed like the night before the sci-fi festival started might be better used on catching an early show of Jupiter Ascending than watching an extra-long episode of a Chinese reality show which I've never seen. And then China Lion tweets out that this was the highest-grossing film in the world last weekend and the part of my brain that really cares about global pop culture started getting an itch.

Obviously, sometimes those itches should be left unscratched; this just isn't a good movie, and probably not even a good episode of the TV program it was spun off from. Even more galling was that my phone was being difficult in terms of checking into MoviePass - you have to be within 100 feet of the lobby and my phone's GPS had me in the middle of the Charles River even when I was standing in the building - so that was my own money for a full-price ticket unless I can get it reimbursed.

The really surprising thing, though, is that there were a lot of previews for Chinese movies coming out within the next week or so - at least three in the next four weeks, way up from the one every month or two, if Boston was lucky, that was the standard less than six months ago. It's becoming almost as common as Indian movies, and I hope that the studios in South Korea and Japan start going with the same day-and-date system, even if we probably don't have enough screens to support it here in the Hub.

Although, man, seeing all those movies lined up, I'm even more frustrated by Well Go not being able to get The Taking of Tiger Mountain a booking here. Does the local audience for Chinese movies just not go for action like they do romance, or was it bad timing w with the students who form Fenway's core audience all home for winter break?

Running Man (2015)

* ¼ (out of four)
Seen 5 February 2015 in Regal Fenway #2 (first-run, DCP)

This thing was the highest-grossing movie in the world last weekend, and I'm hoping like heck that China turning out for it in large numbers doesn't give Hollywood any ideas. It's vaguely worrisome enough that this sort of (mostly) unscripted television show is making the jump to the big screen, even if it wasn't done so poorly.

What is Running Man, besides an obvious invitation for legal action by whoever owns the similarly-named Arnold Schwarzenegger movie? Honestly, even after seeing the film version, I'm not entirely sure. It seems to involve celebrity teams racing around urban areas in some sort of Survivor/The Amazing Race hybrid, with players eliminated when the large name tags on their backs are ripped off. For the film, the ten stars brought to a beach resort are divided into two teams. Li Chen, Zhang Kei, Lynn Hung, Wang Baoqiang, and Guo Jingfei are in red; Kim Jong-kook, Angelababy, Sie Yi-lin, Michael Chen, and Wong Cho-lam are in red; Yi Yi serves as "tour guide" and referee. The main challenge involves searching the resort grounds for puzzle pieces tied to the jungle legend described at the beginning, at least until a new twist is added.

If you have been keeping up with the Chinese films that have been getting near-simultaneous releases in North America and Australia with increasing frequency over the past few months, there are some familiar faces in that line-up, and a few skits and obviously staged bits toward the start help those of us not well-versed in Chinese and Korean celebrities get some idea of what they or their on-screen personae are like: The guys drool over glamour gal Angelababy, Wong Cho-lam and Hsieh Yi-lin have the snarky senses of humor, that sort of thing.

Full review at EFC.

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