SYNOPSIS: The year is 2022, 23-year-old Lang (Deng Chao) is the newly crowned champion of the National Rally Championship. The racer seems to have an infinite future ahead of him, but all he wants is to prove himself to his father. Zheng, whom he blames for his mother’s death. After the race. Lang takes Zheng on a joyride, one that is abruptly cut short when they collide with a train. Lang wakes up and finds hiimself magically transported to 1998 Shanghai, where he meets a young Zheng (Eddie Peng) as well as his best friends. Xieo Ma and Liu Yi. Lang explores his father’s youth with great curiosity. Zheng may seem like a two-bit hoodlum on the surface, but in reality he is a kindhearted, benevolent young man who is beloved by his neighbors. However, when Lang learns that Zheng is dating a girl who isn’t his mother, he decides to derail the relationship by any means necessary in order to ensure his own birth.
In the closing credits, director Han Han thanked movies liked Terminator, Back to the Future and Peter Chan’s He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother for inspiring him to create Duckweed. Han Han for the uninitiated is not just any young filmmaker embarking on his sophomore effort. He is also a celebrity blogger, writer, singer and professional rally driver.
Directed and written by Han Han, Duckweed tells the story of a successful rally driver Tai Lang (Deng Chao) who accidentally went back in time to the year before he was born after he crashed his car while on a joyride with his estranged father, Zheng Tai (Eddie Peng in terrible makeup effects). Ironically, the first person he met in 1998 was his father, a low-level hoodlum who spent his days with his fellow buddies, the dim-witted Liu Yi (Zack Gao) and a gifted IT programmer, Xiao Ma (Dong Zijian) in a karaoke bar.
The misadventure however allows Tai Lang to reconnect with his past especially the mother he has never met. Apparently, Zheng Tai went to jail shortly before Lang was born while his mother committed suicide probably due to depression. Since then, father and son have not been on good terms with Lang constantly blaming his father for his frequent absence and rough treatment of him.
Just when you thought Duckweed is filled with all the seriousness of a melodrama, Han Han cleverly delivered a heartwarming story frequently interspersed with generous doses of humour. We see how Tai Lang learnt about the true characteristic of his father, a man who act and talk tough liked the heroes he admired in HK classic action movies but in reality is a man with a big heart. And of course, audiences are going to have a hearty laugh over Zheng Tai’s business ideas of investing in pagers and foreseeing the closure of cinemas in the long run.
Duckweed is definitely not a movie about the logic of time travel nor does it concern itself with the social and political issues of that time. It’s very much a simple story of how a man reconnects with his father. Deng Chao and Eddie Peng are incredibly charming and mesmerizing as both of them took up most of the screentime. Singer Li Ronghao makes a last minute cameo as a nasty triad boss. The angelic Zhao Liying portrays Xiao Hua who might or might not be Tai Lang’s mother after all (in a hilarious moment in which you need to find out yourself).
Duckweed comes highly recommended if you are tired of loud CGI blockbusters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 provides clear, detailed dialogue and a handful of action sequences deliver excellent surround sound and ambience effects. Skin tones and black levels are generally fine. There are obvious noticeable soft edges which we can’t tell if it’s intended to reflect the era.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee