Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Bird People of China review

It’s not necessarily expectations of another perverse, stylish gore-fest that hurt Takashi Miike’s The Bird People in China, but rather a slowly paced script, ineffective in holding our attention. We follow a Japanese businessman whose company sends him to report on the jade findings of a small village in rural China. Accompanied by a guide and a yakuza member, whom the business owes money to, he finds himself stranded at the village after a series of mishaps and soons discover the secrets of the place. The film kicks off with a stirring start revealing a moody emptiness to the city and tying in bits of dry Miike humor ranging from hallucinogenics and defective steering wheel gags to sudden acts of comic violence. The film’s purpose is clear as characters comment on the village’s innocence, the peacefulness of nature and the blessed ignorance of a technologically free location in the world.

While Miike conveys this message, the story is tiring and mundane with a few uninteresting subplots masked under the guise of glorious verdant cinematography. Miike deserves credit for the move away from his usual work and the success in creating a definitive, serene mood for the film. While the beginning and ending are very striking moments, the lack of plot action and poor character development makes most of the film difficult to sit through.


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