Although Hong Kong actor-turned-director Stephen Chow's latest sci-fi romance film The Mermaid holds a score of 7.9/10 on domestic movie site mtime.com, it really doesn't live up to the score.
A long anticipated film that was kept tightly under wraps until its premiere on Monday, the first day of the Chinese New Year, the film comes across as disappointing, especially considering the anticipation that had been built up.
A class on environmental protection masquerading as a romance story pretty much sums up the 90-minute film. Billionaire developer Liu Xuan (Deng Chao) buys up some coastal land for a project. To get his money's worth, however, he decides to fill in the sea. His project ends up damaging the ecosystem of the area, including the homes of a group of mermaids who live in the area. To stop Liu, mermaid Shanshan (Lin Yun) is sent by the group to seduce him. Finally falling in love with Shanshan, Xu not only abandons his original projects, but now dedicates his entire life to environmental protection.
While Chow is often admired as a film genius who often produces works that no other director would have ever thought of, The Mermaid is a common film.
One of the reasons The Mermaid may come across as lackluster may be because of the comparison to Chow's Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, a fantastic film which came out during the Chinese New Year period back in 2013.
Generally speaking, The Mermaid contains a lot of the director's typical touch: A self-opinionated young man, a pure girl that will lead the main character to the truth, some slapstick comedic characters (often an old ugly looking lady), and some classic lines in the Guangdong dialect.