‘The Mermaid’ takes comedy to a new level


Ashley Tanner

Foreign films tend to deter me from grabbing a popcorn and sitting down for the long haul. Not because I think the are of lesser quality than American films, but because having to read subtitles takes away from the experience. It is a poor excuse, but it is what it is. So naturally I was hesitant to go see a Chinese film.
The Mermaid, which premiered at Ragtag April 8, is a rom-com directed by Stephen Chow, starring Chao Deng (Mr. Lui), Yun Lin (Shan), Show Luo (Octopus) and Yuqi Zhang (Ruolan.) It is the highest grossing movie of all time in China, and for good reason.
This is Lin’s debut movie, but her acting seems as if she has been doing it for years. She plays Shan, a mermaid who sets out to save her people from a businessman (Deng) who is destroying her habitat. Her job was to kill Lui because of all the death he had caused. The plan, created by Octopus (half man, half octopus), was to “honey-trap” him. And like most rom-coms, Shan and Lui fall in love, but it’s never just that easy.
The film contains a lot of slapstick which, can be a weak excuse for humor. But when done right —  and in this case it certainly was — it can entertain a crowd for hours. Injury by golf club, poison and arrows can never go wrong when trying to make an audience laugh, as well as creating moments that make you question whether they really happened or not. It is quite honestly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.
The heart of the film is comedy, but toward the end it takes a more serious turn. The film is rated R because of one blood bath scene. For this first and only time since the film started, the small room was completely silent during this scene. It was surprising to see, after having watched an hour of humor, but it was not out of place. It flowed well with the movie and it made the ending even more powerful.
The filmography was excellent. With many comedies, the humor overrules the film quality, but The Mermaid’s production team took a great deal of care when filming to make sure that the video was crisp and clear.
Having gone into the movie not knowing who any of the actors were was also quite an experience. Many times, half of the enjoyment is getting to watch beloved actors display their talents on screen, but I discovered a whole movie of actors I had never heard of before and thoroughly enjoyed their performance. It was like getting to start all over again with the film industry. Instead of watching the movie, observing an actor, I was observing the characters. It was refreshing.
The film may have been primarily comedic, but the writers had a much bigger message; the environment needs to be taken care of. It’s a simple, yet hard to grasp statement. The whole reason that Shan and Lui even met was because Lui was taking advantage of the environment.It makes you question how far is too far when it comes to the environment, — an important question to talk about. 
There are only a few more chances to see it at Ragtag, so if you have the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it. It has changed my mind about foreign films; having to read subtitles is definitely worth it, especially in this case.
[youtube url=”https://youtu.be/nSgtN7Z6NjI”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ASUImTedo[/youtube]