Sunday, December 01, 2019

Two Tigers

Well, the description for this movie looked a lot more entertaining than the final result wound up being, which was kind of a bummer, because it looks like Chinese imports are going to be in a bit of a dull place until Ip Man 4 at Christmas. The previews for the two likely coming between them are kind of weird - The Whistleblower shows all English-language dialogue even though the graphics are in Chinese, and Feng Xiaogang's Only Cloud Knows looks aggressively art-house in a way that is almost parodically off-putting. Meanwhile, the "Simon Yam and his dog" movie is nowhere to be found anymore.

Also weird: Among the many production company animations at the front of the film was one for "PULIN Production", which starts with a big "PU" above water, with the "LIN" initially shown as a reflection, which is kind of clever, but makes me wonder if anybody making that logo knew what "pee-yew!" means in English. Oddly fitting, I think, for how the movie often just doesn't seem to be entirely thought through.

Liang zhi lao hu (Two Tigers)

* * (out of four)
Seen 30 November 2019 in AMC Boston Common #12 (first-run, DCP)

Here's a fun thing: The Chinese nursery rhyme "Two Tigers" maps pretty much directly onto the traditional French song "Frère Jacques" that I presume many westerners still learn in elementary school, which means that the opening scene of this movie, where generally ominous music becomes and imposing version of the song, is still funny even if you don't know about it until the song becomes part of the story. It would be more impressive if this weren't the high point of the movie, sure, but sometimes you take what you can get.

That opening shot is fun in other ways; it's shot from the perspective of Yu Kai-Xuan (Qiao Shan), who is following another car, and his point of view shows the goofy cartoon ornaments on his dashboard, as well as all the junk piled on his messy passenger seat. Combine it with the music, and the idea that this goofball is about to kidnap wealthy businessman Zhang Cheng-Gong (Ge You) is clearly being presented as absurd, but it's where the movie's going, and this opening does a fairly delightful job of getting the audience there without having to do a bit where Yu is suddenly revealed as kind of a screw-up. It's there from the start, even if the movie does need this bit of competence to get things rolling.

After that, it becomes clear that Yu hasn't thought this through as well as he could - he's got a place to stash Zhang away (an abandoned public swimming pool), but hasn't done enough research to realize that Zhang has no friends or family to whom he should send a ransom demand. Heck, Zhang is insulted when Yu asks him for a mere million yuan ($142,200), and negotiates Yu up to two - although Yu will have to do him three favors in that case. Having already botched things up and shown himself to not really have the stomach for violence, Yu decides to go along with it.

Full review at EFilmCritic

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