Chinese with Chinese and English Subtitles
Director: Ning Hao
Starring: Guo Tao, Liu Gang, Huang Bo, Lian
Jin, Fan Bing Bing
Released By: GVP
Day: 10 August 2006
a precious stone was found and showcased in a factory, the
gangsters are trying every means to get their hands on it.
Bao, the loyal factory worker who volunteered to take over
the security of the stone, comes up with tricks against the
thieves in protecting the exhibit. Every one of their actions
is tied in a net of causes and effects, which ultimately lead
them to a surprise ending.
A trio of inept grifters, an accomplished but unlucky
cat burglar and a lustful louse of a photographer unwittingly
find themselves tangled together in a messy heist for a precious
jade pendant, discovered at the grounds of a floundering factory
on the verge of being torn down. The only man standing in
their way is a jaded (and constipated) ex-detective, Bao Shihong
(Guo Tao) who moonlights as a security guard, dedicated to
protect the pendant.
the comic subtlety of a Stephen Chow effort and the frenzied
pace of a psychedelic monkey, Ning Hao’s direction oozes
reckless exuberance and is distinguished by a sharp visual
intuitiveness and canny knack for accentuating physical comedy
in his performers. In his latest film, “Crazy Stone”,
Ning Hao brings the focus to mainland China - set in Chongqing,
a bustling city with an effervescent and distinctive population.
It’s a welcome change of pace from his austere and halcyonian
“Mongolian Ping Pong”, which rigorously strayed
away from highfalutin’ city living.
high concept crime comedy, it’s chock-full of the requisite
black comedy, violence and accidental mayhem that audiences
have come to expect from caper-genre gems such as “Lock,
Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Snatch”
and “Pulp Fiction”. Relying heavily on complexities,
coincidences, and confluences, it brings together disparate
groups of characters with shared ambitions and builds a disjointed
narrative that constantly revolves around a singular catalyst.
this case, it’s the jade pendant that’s going
to be auctioned off to settle the factory owner’s (Chen
Zhenghua) debts with a crooked property developer. Of course,
the mobster developer needs the land in order to build a high-rise
condominium, so he hires a ‘professional’ thief
to steal the guarded gemstone. Unfortunately, a crew of local
hustlers (Liu Hua, Yue Xiaojun, Huang Bo) robs him when he
lands and get wise to his assignment. They then prepare to
pick up where he inadvertently left off. A wildcard in the
form of the factory owner’s unscrupulous and self-absorbed
son (Peng Bo) is introduced, mucking up the plans of all involved.
itinerant and taut screenplay that switches between its subjects
in the parallels of time and space reaches a farcical precision
through its slick and witty dialogue that often digresses
into bizarre and off-the-wall zingers. The humour is incredibly
sharp and matter-of-fact, an esoteric representation of the
colloquialisms and commonplace vernacular of mainland Chinese.
The thick, impenetrable dialect can be a task but its comedy
often amounts to slapstick and cheeky throwaway gags, especially
in the case of the bandit trio, an obvious homage to the antics
of the Three Stooges. These are definitely not the suave and
elegant criminal masterminds of “Oceans Eleven”,
they find themselves face down in the mud and grime more often
than they manage to slip past unsuspecting guards and cleverly
reversing the advantage.
the approaches of experimental edits and innovative camera
techniques, the film’s aggressive and capricious style
is an amalgamation of derivative and flaunty exhibitions of
colour and visual design. It might seem like an exercise in
style over substance when it employs the use of technical
edits and split screens to convey modal ideas where less can
be considered more. Fortunately with its complicated yet effective
plot finesse, which remains unyieldingly manic till the end,
it is probably the FOCUS: First Cuts (FFC) film series’
best, if not the most memorable entry to date.
28-year-old director must already be primed for his next feature.
With “Crazy Stone” being the highest grossing
local film in China so far this year, it has certainly left
an impression on moviegoers. No doubt due in part to a novel
anti-piracy initiative, when its distributors released the
film during a period where no foreign films were released
in its cinemas. It was quickly followed up with the release
of legitimate Region 6 DVDs tailored for local players, to
dissuade bootleg copies.
(One of the funniest comedies this year, guaranteed to leave
you with a gut full of laughs and a face plastered with smiles)
by Justin Deimen