Watch this trailer for The Mermaid.
Awesome right? It is so cool that Hollywood isn’t the only creator of fun blockbuster films, despite what the internet wants you to believe.
The Mermaid, or Mei Ren Yu, is a Chinese film directed by Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. Luckily, Denver was one of the cities that got the film for a foreign release, so of course I rushed to see it, and let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint.
The story follows Shan, a mermaid displaced from her home by wealthy billionaire Liu Xuan, and her attempt to assassinate Xuan. In the opening scenes of the movie Xuan purchases Green Gulf and installs sonic emitters to drive out dolphins so he can build a resort. Over the course of the film, the pair fall in love, and must stop Xuan’s suitor Ruolan from destroying Shan’s remaining family.
While the storyline may be a little bare bones, Chow uses this opportunity to really show the audience something that hasn’t been seen since the criminally underrated Waterworld. The ending sequence in a helicopter/boat/mermaid chase, and it is doesn’t resemble a damn thing I have seen out of Hollywood recently. The action sequences alone are a breath of fresh air. That being said, Chow’s comedy chops are at full force. While the trailer above sells the movie as all action all the time, there are a ton of comedy here, and the jokes play into the story, instead of running away from the themes present.
From the technical side of things, the special effects are stunning, yet goofy at times. Even with Chow’s trademark humor, the effects hold up, and never detract from the movie. A large portion of this movie has water in the frame, and it never once broke my immersion. The effect that steals the scene though is when ever Octopus, played by Show Luo, is on screen. The actor really sells the idea of having 8 extra limbs, especially in one completely out of left field scene that produced howls of laughter.
As of this writing, The Mermaid is the 5th highest grossing film of 2016, but no one outside of China saw it. This is not surprising, the movie was only shown in 106 theaters here in the United States. That isn’t stopping it from being an economic juggernaut though, and it will probably end up in the Top 10 grosses worldwide when 2016 comes to a close. It should serve as a deft reminder that Hollywood isn’t the only source for entertaining and engrossing film.
The Mermaid will be released for digital download on May 16th.