The Mermaid (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 4, 2016 by Dennis Amith
If you are searching for a film that incorporates comedy and action with that Stephen Chow-style of filmmaking that many of us have come to love, then “The Mermaid” is definitely recommended!
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TITLE: The Mermaid
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 94 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), Mandarin and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Polish, Spanish, Thai
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Some Violence)
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Directed by Stephen Chow
Written by Hing-ka Chan, Stephen Chow, Chi Keung Fung, Miu-Kei Ho, Ivy Kong, Si-Cheun Lee, Zhengyu Lu, Kan-Cheung Tsang
Producer: Stephen Chow
Co-Producer: Wei Yang
Consulting Producer: Bill Borden
Co-Executive Producer: Yuan Cai, Zhong-lun Ren
Executive-Producer: Stephen Chow, La Peikang
Co-Executive Producer: Yuan Cai, Zhong-lun Ren
Cinematography by Sung Fai Choi
Music by Fuhua Huang, Jiajia Zheng
Edited by Ka-Fai Cheung, Man To Tang
Art Direction by Raymond Chan, Bruce Yu
Chao Deng as Liu Xuan
Yun Lin as Shan
Show Luo as Octopus
Yuqi Zhang as Ruolan
Pierre Bourdaud as The Auctioneer
Ivan Kotik as George
Hark Tsui as Si Ye
Kris Wu as Wu Yi Fan (Cameo)
From Stephen Chow, director of Kung Fu Hustle, comes The Mermaid: the comedic action-filled phenomenon that has become China’s biggest film of all time! When greedy real estate tycoon, Liu XUAN (Deng Chao), buys up a pristine coastal enclave known as Green Gulf, he plans to turn it into the hottest property on the market. But Green Gulf harbors a secret: it’s home to the last surviving mermaids, and they are done playing nice. Their plan: send the beautiful Shan (Lin Yun) to seduce Liu and stop the destruction of their beloved oceans. But when their plan goes belly-up, neither humans nor mermaids are willing to back down, and a final, fatal frenzy becomes inevitable.
For over 20-years, Stephen Chow has entertained millions of people with his action comedy films.
From “Love on Delivery”, “From Beijing with Love”, “King of Comedy”, “Shaolin Soccer”, “Kung Fu Hustle”, “CJ7” and “Journey to the West”, to name a few. Chow’s films are original, full of hope and entertaining because you never know what to expect.
And as Chow’s films tend to be high-grossing in the Chinese box office, his latest film “The Mermaid” which was released back in Feb. 2016, became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time.
The film would star Chao Deng (“Assembly”, “Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “The Four”), Yun Lin (“L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties”), Show Luo (“Journey to the West”, “Hi My Sweetheart”, “Lan qui huo”) and Yuqi Zhang (“CJ7”, “White Deer Plain”, “All About Women”).
And in July 2016, Stephen Chow’s most successful film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
“The Mermaid” begins with millionaire Liu Xuan (portrayed by Chao Deng) purchasing the Green Gulf, a wildlife reserve for a sea reclamation project. He dumps sonar technology in order to rid (and kill) any sea life that goes near it.
While his wealthy friends do not put so much belief in Liu Xuan’s ability, because he came from a poor upbringing and because of his Playboy ways.
While he is able to attract the beautiful and money loving Ruolan (portrayed by Zhang Yuqi), who sees the project as wonderful for her to make even more money. She becomes Liu Xuan’s business partner. But she also wants all Liu Xuan’s attention to be on her.
Meanwhile, at a party, a strange girl shows up and tries to get Liu Xuan to contact her and leaves her a number for him to contact her. But his bodyguards send her on her way.
When the weird girl goes home, we see her going through home but then going through a tunnel heading downward and we learn that the weird girl, Shan, is actually a mermaid.
And that she was sent by her fellow mermaids to avenge their fallen and those who are near-death due to Liu Xuan’s sonar technology. The goal is for Shan to use her beauty to lure Liu Xuan to Mermaid home and so everyone can kill him.
But because Liu Xuan’s playboy ways can’t stop him, he ends up calling Shan to come to his building.
Now Shan will have her chance to assassinate him? Can she kill the man responsible for hurting her fellow mermaids or will she end up falling in love with him instead?
“The Mermaid” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Mermaid” is presented in Mandarin and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. As this is an action film, there is a lot of surround sound usage during the more action intense battle exchanges and also good use of LFE during the battles, especially between the mermaids vs. the humans. But overall, dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear. Great use of the surround channels throughout the film.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Polish, Spanish, Thai.
“The Mermaid” comes with the following special features:
- The Making of the Mermaid – (13:23) Interviews with the cast and crew on the making of the film and their characters.
- Invincible Music Video – (1:33) The cast members individually lip-synch of “Invincible”.
- The Mermaid Behind The Scenes – (1:44) A short behind-the-scenes look at the cast having fun behind-the-scenes.
“The Mermaid” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet Digital HD code.
I have watched and reviewed many Stephen Chow films and with each film, he manages to maintain a consistency of comedy, unique storytelling and just creating something out of the ordinary and non-traditional.
And to my delight, I enjoyed “The Mermaid” for its hilarious and unpredictable moments but for a Stephen Chow film, surprised how things got dark and violent for the second half of the film.
The premise of “The Mermaid” is that a playboy millionaire is wreaking havok in the ocean, killing all sealife due to his sonar devices for his reclamation project.
The character Liu Xuan is a playboy, likes to sport a (fake) thin mustache and looks like as if he could give a care for the world. But deep down inside, he is a lonely guy that wants to be loved, instead of being loved for his money.
All that changes when he falls for Shan, a weird unusual girl who he tries to through money in order for her to leave, but she’s not interested in money. She is a mermaid who was sent by her group to allure him and so the mermaids can kill him for putting harm to sea creatures and killing and hurting many mermaids.
And as Shan tries her best to assassinate the millionaire or do whatever is possible to lure him to her place and let her fellow mermaids off him, she falls in love with him, ad Liu falls in love with her. Two lonely souls that have found a wonderful bond and likes. May it be singing, eating chicken, you name it, they enjoy each other’s presence. And for Liu, he found a woman that is interested in him and not his money.
But of course, he doesn’t know that she is a mermaid and her goal is to get him killed?
But the true antagonist of the film is Ruolan, the business partner of Liu who is gorgeous but also vain. She only wants money and she is targeting Liu for his millions.
And she truly hates Shan for captivating his attention and when she finds out that Shan is a mermaid, suffice to say, all hell breaks loose.
Stephen Chow also brings in one of his fellow film actors, Show Luo as Octopus. Unlike other merman’s, he is half human and half octopus. He is attracted to Shan, but she is not attracted to him. He leads the mermaids but gets into situations with his tentacles that one can’t help but laugh, unfortunately also at his pain.
For a Stephen Chow film, he does not star in this film at all. But surprisingly, we see legendary director Hark Tsui (“Once Upon a Time in China” and “Seven Sword” films) having a role in the film. And also the appearance of pop star Wu Yifan in a cameo role is another plus.
In fact, for those who have enjoyed previous Stephen Chow films, will find it delightful to see familiar faces in “The Mermaid”.
While many of Stephen Chow films are fantastic. Many have asked me, how does this film rank in his oeuvre of directed films. And I think my answer is the same. I’ll always love his 1994 film “Love on Delivery”, since it was the first Stephen Chow film that I was introduced to. But my all-time favorite would be his 2001 film “Shaolin Soccer”.
No doubt “Kung Fu Hustle” was amazing and gained the actor/director international recognition and “CJ7” was touching. But “The Mermaid”, it was a bit different in the fact that while Stephen Chow films have a lot of action, there was no doubt a political message that he was sending with this film.
May it be a message of the slaughter of whales that happens in other islands or the military use of sonar and killing sealife, there is a deep message of the harm that is being done and the hope that it can be stopped. And because we have seen images of the slaughter of minke whales, Chow drives home the message through visual scenes of savagery.
What is primarily a film full of comedy becomes serious and dark by the second half that you can’t help but be surprised of the transition as you watch major violence upon the two protagonists. While not uncommon to see in a Stephen Chow film, this is probably the furthest Chow has gone to show his protagonists suffering extreme violence.
But with that being said, “The Mermaid” is an entertaining films. For its over-the-top humor and its handling of characters, its visual effects.. Stephen Chow has no doubt upped his game.
The performance by Chao Deng, Yun Lin, Show Luo and Yuqi Zhang is wonderful. Chao and Yun’s onscreen chemistry was captivating!
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic. Lossless audio is also immersive considering this is an action film. And you get also a few special features included.
The hard part is with Stephen Chow having directed so many fantastic films, “The Mermaid” would not be on my top 3 favorite Stephen Chow-directed films. But it is a wonderful and entertaining film that I recommend!
Overall, if you are searching for a film that incorporates comedy and action with that Stephen Chow-style of filmmaking that many of us have come to love, then “The Mermaid” is definitely recommended!
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