The highest grossing Chinese film of all time is an absolute bonkers of a movie that nicely blends the elements of comedy, fantasy & romance into one utterly ridiculous, batshit crazy & delightfully entertaining feature while also packing in surprising level of heart & a thought-provoking message concerning our environment.
The Mermaid tells the story of a money-minded businessman who purchases a wildlife reserve for a sea reclamation project, and uses his sonar technology to get rid of the region’s aquatic life. The plot follows a young & beautiful mermaid who’s dispatched by her folks to kill him but both of them end up falling in love with each other.
Co-written, co-produced & directed by Stephen Chow (best known for Shaolin Soccer & Kung Fu Hustle), The Mermaid has all the craziness of his previous works, be it the absurd moments of hilarity, idiosyncratic characters or corny CGI effects which actually enhance the oddities of his flicks but even though the laughs are plentiful, it ultimately runs out of fuel after a while.
The film does make a weighty statement against environmental pollution in its own wicked manner although what actually surprised me was the tragic turn the plot takes in the second half which was unexpected but still a welcome move, for it gives the story a sense of direction while showcasing that beneath its farcical surface lies a rich, thoughtful & somewhat sensible tale.
The cast does a capable job of illustrating its whimsical characters, and the chemistry between the two leads only gets better as the story progresses. Its energetic camerawork is always trying to keep up with its maniacal moments. Editing allows its comical aspects to go a tad too far. Visual effects is cartoonish as mentioned before, while the background score is incompatible for the most part.
On an overall scale, The Mermaid is another whacky entry from Stephen Chow that promises loads of laughter but everyone won’t be able to get on board with its eccentricity, for few will find it quite annoying while others will enjoy it for the same reason. It does work as a comedy, is touching as a romance & is overly fanciful at times yet Stephen Chow’s latest would have been far more rewarding had it settled for a more balanced narrative.