Saturday, May 27, 2017


This light comedy, directed by Stephen Chow, is about a Mermaid operative infiltrating a "Chuppie" stronghold in order to assassinate the billionaire (Chao Deng) who is killing off her species using a deadly sonar device.  Hijinks ensue.  NICE AND SIMPLE.  There are a lot of sight gags, a lot of riffing on traditional Mermaid conceits (especially the one about 'why does she walk so funny?') and MORE THAN A FEW RECRUITING TIPS for new landfish operatives -- NONE of which will be Mermaids (she sniffed).  That comment was directed at any Shaved Monkey readers of this column who see the movie and are then expecting to see lithesome women walking down the street of a human city on the tips of their fish tails.

The characters were unexpectedly interesting in this movie.  The Merpeople do a lot more than sit around combing their hair and singing arias to attract male Naked Ape company.  They have fun; they argue and take care of their sick children; they even  ride skateboards and exhibit a fashion sense rarely seen up on dry land.  They are as fallible as anyone.  The humans as well as the sea people are far from cardboard cutouts, often completely dorky and embarrassing to stand next to.  And the voice of wisdom in this story -- the grandmother Mermaid -- points out how closely related the two species are and how likely to fall in love, even when they appear to be enemies.  ISN'T THAT OBSERVATION THE CENTRAL PARADOX OF ALL OUR LIVES?  The museum curator at the beginning of the movie -- if that's his job title -- makes the same point although he does not see the romantic aspect of it, only the genetic one.  (THUS DO FEATHERLESS BIPED SCIENTISTS, GOOD AND BAD, ALWAYS THINK.)  He's still hitting on something there.

The most complex and unreadable character by far is Ruo-lan Li (Zuqi Zhang), THE ONLY ONE IN THE ENTIRE STORY WHO RESEMBLES A REAL MERMAID.  She stalks through the movie in a series of slinky black dresses that Emma Peel would be proud to own, showing off her entirely human legs, but glares at Shan, the actual Mermaid operative (Yun Lin) when they meet with the unmistakable gaze of a female rival, a peer, AN ILL-TEMPERED MERMAID IN AN EGG-LADEN FRENZY.  Yet she gives not a single flip for the welfare of the Mermaids in Green Gulf.  Her attitude is "Mermaids!?  Send out the goon squad with the machine guns and wipe 'em out!  We have real estate to develop here!"  But this is the same Naked Ape who nearly falls out of her chair when a Goldfish is murdered in front of her eyes.  WHERE IS SHE COMING FROM IN THIS STORY?

I predict that we will be avidly discussing this film for MONTHS in the local chapter meetings.


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