NAMIYA (解忧杂货店) (2017)

Genre: Drama/Fantasy
Director: Han Jie
Cast: Karry Wang, Dilraba Dilmurat, Dong Zijian, Lee Hong-chi, Hao Lei, Chen Duling, Qin Hao, Pan Binlong, Jackie Chan
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 4 January 2018

Synopsis: The film is adapted from the best-selling Japanese novel “The Miracles of the Namiya General Store” by Keigo Higashino (writer of White Night, Suspect X). Three orphans on the lam take refuge in a derelict dime store and find time barriers shattered when they receive a letter seeking advice from 1993.

Movie Review:

It’s hard not to compare this movie to the Japanese live-action movie of the same name [The Miracles of Namiya General Store (2017)] when it was screened in Singapore merely 3 months ago. Let’s start with a tidbit of information that was not mentioned in the previous review – while NA•MI•YA is supposedly the name of the shop owner (in its original Japanese novel), it’s also an anagram of NA•YA•MI, which means worry or trouble in Japanese.

The movie is adapted from a novel, written by popular novelist Keigo Higashino. The book has achieved tremendous success in China, selling more than 1.6 million copies to date. The story is about a general store owner who sets up his own advice column / notice board to help solve some of the troubles the patrons of his store have. With its popularity being so immense in China, it’s no wonder movie makers would want to capitalize on this opportunity.

Namiya is produced in China, and stars rising stars such as Dilraba Dilmurat and Karry Wang. You may recognise Dilraba Dilmurat for her role in popular Chinese drama series ‘Eternal Love’ (or better known as San Sheng San Shi Shi Li Tao Hua). On the other hand, Karry Wang is the leader of popular idol group TFBoys in China. He’s reported to be one of the wealthiest people born after 1990s, with a personal net worth of US$36 million – you can only imagine his popularity!

However, what’s most familiar to the audiences in Singapore is none other than Jackie Chan. While he’s fronting another movie [Bleeding Steel (2017)] in a completely different role, Namiya marks the actor’s first non-action related role. To be honest, it did feel weird more than refreshing to not see the classic twists and stunts. But considering his age, it is time for us to begin accepting him in roles that has nothing to do with martial arts.

With such a stellar line-up, one would imagine the movie to be somewhat promising. However, overall the movie lacked charm and the wow factor. What is key in the original narrative is having those respective story arcs and relaying the connectedness and the miracles that happen in between. But the movie retold the story in a fairly linear fashion (using ‘linear’ as a very loose term’), and reduced much of the character development in the story arcs to fit it to a ‘movie-size’.

The movie felt rather plain and simple – the set-up of the 80s China was not exceptionally impressive, nor was the revelation of the secret behind the general store any close to being inspiring. What the movie did do right was localizing and making right references to China pop icons and culture. If you have watched the Japanese adaptation of the movie, you would notice some key differences in the plot. Although this review won’t be diving deep into picking out these differences, it did make the movie feel more distant overall, and lack the emotional connection.

All in all, if you’re looking for a heartwarming movie that inspires, Namiya wouldn’t fit the bill. Unless your curiosity is piqued by Jackie Chan’s performance, you may consider giving this a pass.  

Movie Rating:

((The stars have aligned, but that didn’t help to bring the sparkle to Namiya)

Review by Tho Shu Ling


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