Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mr. Six

I shouldn't have been able to watch this on Christmas Eve - I had planned to take the train north at 11:30am, but I'd forgotten my passport, and though my family only lives in Maine and not Canada, you're supposed to show ID to get on a train or bus, and I never got a new state ID after losing it while making a copy to get a new passport. It gave me a little time to head to Beacon Hill Chocolates to get a little something extra for my folks and then just squeeze this in with enough time to get back home, pick up the bags of gifts with which to spoil my nieces, and then catch the 5pm train to Portland.

Pretty good crowd for 1pm on a Thursday, even if this was a semi-holiday. I half-figured that the holidays would slow the crowds for the Chinese movies down, since much of the crowd seems to be students, but apparently not. It was one where I wondered what was seeming a little goofier to Mandarin-speakers than me (or if, conversely, Feng Xiaogang's voice sounds funny), but still a fairly enjoyable afternoon, albeit one I'd planned to have a few days later.

Lao pao er (Mr. Six)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 December 2015 in AMC Boston Common #19 (first-run, DCP)

Although Mr. Six isn't much different in substance to any number of "aging tough guy stands up to disrespectful young punks" movies, it eases the audience into that story with a little more care than is typical, and maybe doesn't quite escalate in exactly the way one might expect. It's thus fairly low-key for something presented as a vigilante action movie, and maybe a little drawn out even for the other genres it fits, but it's still an enjoyable go at the idea, even if one is expecting something a little louder.

Liu Ye (Feng Xiaogang), whom everyone in the Beijing neighborhood where he lives calls "Mr. Six" ("Lao Pao Er"), used to be a big deal, and even now, despite nobody shopping in the convenience store he half-heartedly runs, there's still a fair amount of respect for him, even among the police, even if he has to go around scrounging up money to bail his friend "Scrapper" Men San Er (Zhang Hanyu) out of jail. It's been a while since he had spoken to his son "Bobby" Xiao Bo (Li Yifeng), and when he does visit his son's apartment, he finds Bobby has gotten into a disagreement with a member of a connected family over a girl which escalated to letting this guy's Ferrari, and now he's got an awful lot of money to pay back. Liu Ye intends to raise it, but he's got a bit more than age slowing him down.

There's an edgy sort of energy to the start of this movie; Liu Ye is presented as an old-timer whose insistence on a certain sort of propriety makes him seem awful close to unhinged even if neither his words nor his attitude are that far off from the typical elder grumpiness. It's kind of curious, then, that the filmmakers seem to let this fade as the film goes on, making Liu Ye more clearly sympathetic and having the moments when he is shown as less influential pass without a great deal of friction. It is, in an ideal situation, appropriate that the theme of the film changes as it goes on - it is healthy to go from frustration to acceptance vis-a-vis one's obsolescence - but though the transition is relatively smooth, it's not necessarily entirely genuine in feeling.

Full review on EFC.

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