Monday, September 28, 2015

Lost in Hong Kong

I don't think Lost in Thailand was one of the Chinese movies that drew crazy crowds beyond what I'd expected based upon how the audience for some previous releases were me and two or three other people, but it was also one which hit the United States three months or so after its Chinese release, and that is plenty of time for pirates to kill its expatriate market. Heck, legitimate Chinese DVDs might have been available for import by then.

This one, though - I was kept at work for twenty minutes longer than I'd planned, and by the time I'd arrived at Boston Common, the 7:10pm show was sold out and a second screen had been added - and by the time I quit dilly-dallying about whether I wanted to hang around for another hour, the 8:10pm show had sold out, as had the first of the 10pm round. When I did make it to the 1:30pm show the next day, the crowd filled in pretty darn well by the time the previews were over.

Speaking of previews, one of them was for Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin, and I really hope that this one plays at the Coolidge or Somerville Theater specifically, because the preview was in Academy Ratio and looked a little less impressive in the widescreen presentation. Looks nifty, and it's probably good that Well Go doesn't seem to be dressing it up as more action-packed than reports are that it actually is.s

Gang Jiong (Lost in Hong Kong)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 26 September 2015 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, DCP)

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour made seven "Road to..." movies between 1940 and 1962, though this series was not sequels so much as a chance to make selling the audience similar plots on a regular basis a virtue beyond the proven chemistry. Xu Zheng is doing something similar with his "Lost in..." movies, although without the returning co-stars. So far, so good - Lost in Hong Kong is at least as funny as Lost in Thailand, a pretty decent madcap farce.

Though it takes a little while to get around to it, the situation is pretty clear: Xu Lai (Xu Zheng), an art student twenty years ago but now designing brassieres for his in-laws' company in Shanghai, is with those in-laws on a family vacation to Hong Kong, with wife "Spinach" Cai Bo (Vicki Zhao Wei) disturbingly focused on becoming pregnant with their first child and her younger brother Lala (Bao Bei-er) trying to shoot a documentary about the family, Xu Lai in particular. This is even more annoying than expected, because Xu Lai aims to sneak off for a rendez-vous with Yang Yi ("Jennifer" Du Juan), his first love who transferred schools during college and has since become a famous artist. And unbeknownst to any of them, Lala's camera caught a man falling out the window of the building across the street from the hotel, and the police would like to talk to them about it.

This is the sort of comedy - and Xu Lai the sort of character - where clearing certain things up early on could spare him and the audience a whole lot of aggravation. It's never really clear, for instance, whether Yang Yi is hoping to meet up with an old friend or whether she's got the same thoughts toward their unconsummated affair of twenty years ago that Xu Lai does. That's still the case when she actually enters the picture, leading to a few really weird scenes as Xu Zheng (who directs as well as stars) and writer Shu Huan try to straighten things out for the homestretch. This sort of ambiguity isn't in and of itself a terrible idea, but it's something that Xu doesn't quite seem ready for as a director who is making a movie about people getting bonked on the head.

Full review on EFC.

No comments: