SUPER ME (超级的我) (NETFLIX) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: Struggling writer Sang Yu (Darren Wang), has always dreamt of becoming a successful screenwriter. He writes non-stop, stays awake and stresses out to finish a script he’s been paid by his friend, San Ge (Cao Bingkun), to complete. Plagued by nightmares of a demon who wants to kill him, Sang Yu tries to stay awake and becomes an insomniac. One day, he discovers that he possesses a super power - making his dreams a reality, which he uses to his own advantage. As his lifestyle improves, he encounters Qiang Ge (Wu Gang), a ruthless gangster, who uses Sang Yu as a tool to achieve his fortune. Along the way, Sang Yu is able to pursue Hua Er (Song Jia), his crush since childhood, and the love of his life.
On the surface, Super Me is a superficial fantasy drama involving dimension and dreams. A wild combination of Jumper, Inception and Interstellar you might urge. Somehow, director and writer Zhang Chong managed to turn in an entertaining wonky movie but like a puzzle missing its pieces, lacks the details and emotions to make it work.
Sang Yu (Darren Wang) is a down-and-out writer who is suffering from severe insomnia. Every time he falls asleep, a mysterious masked demon (Kevin Lee) attacks him in his dreams and he wakes up in terror. Sleepless, penniless and homeless, Sang is at his wits’ end. Soon however, he realizes he has the power to bring back valuable objects from his dreams. The trick is to shout out “I’m dreaming” before the masked demon kills him. With that, he became an overnight rich man. His once editor, San Ge (Cao Bingkun) became his assistant and he finally have the courage to approach his crush, Hua Er (Song Jia) who operates a café.
Just when he thought his life couldn’t get any better, Sang’s health starts to deteriorate. There’s nothing free in this world and Sang is about to pay the price for it. With a ruthless gangster (Wu Gang) hot on his heels, will Sang manage to redeem himself in time and save his friend and beloved Hua Er?
For a start, Super Me is laden with metaphors and life lessons. Zhang Cong seems to be using Sang Yu’s perspective to lay out the complex human life journey. Sang’s reality mirrors our struggles while his alternate dimension is hinting at our greed and desires. Perhaps the masked demon in his dreams is reflecting our inner demons. It’s a genuine case of either overcoming the demon or letting it take over your mind and body.
There’s a quick snippet of various characters dispensing psychological and holistic jargon in the prologue. Even the studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are referenced in the end. And while it helps to give the movie a little more depth and purpose, it doesn’t help but only confuse the casual audiences.
Still, the final product manages to entertain given Darren Wang and Cao Bingkun’s somewhat goofy acting. The material is serious and somber but the performers are not really taking things all that seriously. Chong successfully flaunt the reasonable well-done CGI and a few solid action sequences though you wish you could see more of it.
Comparing this to A Writer’s Odyssey which also features a writer in distress, the plotting of Super Me is too overwhelmed with ideas and require a richer narrative to sort things out. The love story is kind of a drag and you wish it could focus more on the mysterious street vendor played by Taiwanese veteran Jin Shijie. Premiering two years ago at Sitges, Super Me is undeniably an entertaining popcorn flick. Nothing quite super about it though.
Review by Linus Tee