Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chinese Odyssey 2002

Yi Long (Tony Leung), known as “Bully the Kid” in his childhood village of Meilong, is avoided for his reputation when he returns after a two year trip of wandering. Determined to find a husband for his tomboyish sister, he discovers an escaped princess, (Faye Wong) unbeknownst to him, who is disguised as a man, and he proceeds to set up the relationship. Princess begins to have feelings for him as Yi Long's sister begins to fall for the Princess. While Yi Long is confused about his feelings, the princess’s brother enters the confusing love triangle. In the meantime the queen is set on forcing both the royal siblings back to the palace to marry worthy royalty.

The Good?
Jeffery Lau directs the film as if it were a serious, engaging story and throws in hysterical jokes every once in a while to catch the audience off-guard. The film is a spoof in terms of genre, but its slow rate of gags defies the conventions. Lau gives the audience just long enough to settle back into the plot before effectively debunking it with another silly bit.

It walks along a thin line of pastiche, using respected elements such as Shakespearean plot devices, wu-xia settings and Wong Kar Wai stylistic choices, with a light tone that imitates these films, but is aware of their ridiculous and cliché aspects. The cast helps with slight overacting, while also opening up to actually allow the audience to invest in the characters.

Great technical elements from a catchy soundtrack and musical dance number to gorgeous cinematography, sets and costumes.

The Bad?
The last fifteen-twenty minutes of the film become complete melodrama without an ounce of humor. Rather than build on the lovable relationships and tone of the film, the film takes itself way to seriously with uncomfortable Tony Leung poetic monologues. The film just needed to be consistent.


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