Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A CHINESE TALL STORY: Just CGI Madness

A CHINESE TALL STORY
(fantasy adventure in Cantonese)
Time: 88 mins
Rating: * *
Nicholas Tse in Chinese Tall Story
THE adventures of the Monkey God, Sun Wukong, from the Chinese classic, Journey To The West, has fascinated people through the generations. It has been translated and adapted into countless comic books, movies and TV series. The latest, A Chinese Tall Story, is a whopping RM50-million spoof by writer-director Jeff Lau Chun-Wai who ‘updates’ the tale with all manner of special effects, stunts and gimmicks.

But Lau is not really concerned with the adventures of the Monkey God here. His emphasis is on a love story between a Tang Dynasty monk named Tripitaka (Nicholas Tse), and a young lizard girl named Meiyan (Charlene Choi). Oops! Let me rephrase that. Lau’s real emphasis is on showing off his computer-generated effects and he goes about this like a kid on Christmas morning.

He throws in everything from Star Wars and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to Matrix and even Zathura. I suspect, if we had looked at the space sequences close enough, there could be a kitchen sink out there too...

The love story, or rather romantic entrapment, takes place before Tripitaka embarks on his famous journey to bring the sacred sutras from the west. Tripitaka and his three disciples, Monkey King Sun Wukong (Chen Po-lin), the Pig monk, Zhu Wuneng (Kenny Kwan) and Sank monk Sha Wujing (Steven Cheung) arrive to a hero’s welcome in Shache City. The three disciples, however, are promptly abducted by some evil magicians and our hero has to borrow the magical Golden Pole in his bid to save them.

On the way, he meets the buck-toothed Meiyan who falls in love with him instantly and follows him wherever he goes. An unrecognisable Charlene Choi gets the most laughs here as the rapid-mouth imp who probably thinks she has a good chance at winning the Miss World/Galaxy crown. Still, Choi seems to be the only one who carries the comedy in this movie. Nicholas Tse, who did not even have the courage to shave his head bald for his role as a monk, appears to be playing a supporting role beside Choi.

Others in the cast, like Fan Bing Bing (as Princess Xiaoshan) and Isabella Leong (as the Crimson Kid), are just eye candy in a messy movie that offers space monsters and storm-troopers in confusing battles. Some may equate the action to that of video games but this Tall Story is just CGI rubbish. The film-makers may have wanted to impress us with their computer wizardry, but they end up infuriating us!

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