Vampire Owl: Do you know how much I love the mermaids?
Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that you don’t love them as much as you love Lady Death.
Vampire Owl: Lady Death is more like a final destination. So do not try to bring her into this conversation, and neither should you talk about Doctor Frankenstein.
Vampire Bat: Frankenstein? Okay, so tell me more about your love for those mermaids who don’t love you back.
Vampire Owl: Mr. Vampire Bat, they don’t love me because they don’t know me.
Vampire Bat: Actually, the truth is that they don’t even realize that you exist, and there is no such requirement for them either.
Vampire Owl: No, I am the most popular vampire apprentice in this realm.
Vampire Bat: Dude, the word ‘vampire’ don’t go well with owls. Your kind works well with demons, spirits and the similar creatures from the other dimension.
Vampire Bat: I see the food being a common factor linking you two.
[Gets three cups of Kumily tea with a piece of marble cake].
What is the movie about? :: A young and energetic business tycoon Liu Xuan (Deng Chao) is one of those newer faces in the elite class, looking forward to making it big. It is because of the same reason that he buys the area known as the Green Gulf, planning for a sea reclamation project. He uses the sonar technology to get rid of the oceanic creatures there, especially the dolphins which are supposed to live there in large number. With the technology which proves brutal, they are very much successful in driving the dolphins away, as there was not much of a sighting of them for a long time. Along with his long line of supporters, and the newly found special business partner Ruolan (Zhang Yuqi), he decides to take it to the next level – Ruolan, not only being attracted to him for his success and quick money-making, but also sexually, decides to keep him with her throughout for the deals, despite him not having that huge a family background.
So, what happens next? :: But unknown to Liu, Ruolan or any other, the Green Gulf is the home of merpeople, the aquatic creatures with the head and upper body of a humans and the tail of fish, or other sea creatures. It turns out that after Liu had bought the area, overall pollution had increased, and the sonar devices placed in the sea has been producing a devastating effect on their kind. A lot of them had died, and some of them unwell, with not much of a future left, awaiting the end of their lives. With their people being lost to sickness and even worse fate, the merpeople decide not to co-exist in peace and suffer for the damage that humans have been doing to them as well as the environment. They decide to react, and by the same, they feel that things should begin with the one man who has caused all the trouble, Liu Xuan, the millionaire – they all want him dead, and that too, as soon as possible, before he cause any further damage to their world.
And what is to follow in this adventure in water and land? :: The half-human, half-fish creatures of the ocean join under Octopus (Show Luo) who is half-man half-octopus, who calls for a hitman, or rather a femme fatale to murder the evil human target. They train a beautiful young mermaid named Shan (Lin Yun) to walk on her fins, and adapt to human life, hiding among humans, and find an opportunity to meet Liu. When she gets to find him and have a meeting, she is supposed to seduce him, and send him to his doom. The plan seems to be quite a smart one for everyone, as they send Shan to the land, and after setting up her place on an abandoned house which has the sea underneath it, she goes on to find Liu with Ruolan and other girls – she leaves her phone number for him and asks him to call her, and they all wait for the man to call the mermaid. So, will Liu fall for the trap and call the mermaid, inviting his own doom, or will he just continue with his work? Will Shan be good enough for the job, and can the Green Gulf and the merpeople be saved?
The defence of The Mermaid :: When we look at The Mermaid, we see that it works at two levels, one at the simplest level of comedy, and another level, at the more serious concern, on the need for conservation of nature from all which contributes in polluting it. There are a number of funny moments which you will get to watch and can’t control laughter, which includes, but is not limited to the mermaid’s attempt at assassination, the octopus trying to sneak in for no use and the millionaire remembering his father when getting to eat a chicken. There is cuteness present, which makes sure that no matter how dumb some comic scenes happen to go, you will find that the simple characters and simple incidents make sure that the fun is something that will keep on going. It is certainly divergent from the usual mermaid tale that you will see anywhere, and it is also different in talking about protecting the environment. You call this a package which takes them all in.
The claws of flaw :: I am sure that a lot of people will find some of the comedy scenes to be rather childish, and for a movie with ninety three percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, you tend to expect more than that. There is also that certainty of confusion with the genre, which can be seen, as we look at how things proceed, with focus being shifted from one genre to the other, and its inability to take a few things seriously is rather confusing – after all, there are some elements which have to be dealt with leaving the comedy behind if they are present, but The Mermaid never tries to put down what it has in its lap, but stands straight up to take something else. It can be said so more concerning the final scenes, and it makes us wonder why it couldn’t maintain the strength that it had earlier. Maybe it could have maintained the comic side, without going rather violent and yet without seriousness. The modern take of the folktale mermaid story could have surely been better. The romantic side is rather strange too.
How it finishes :: As the four people playing the most noticable characters, Deng Chao, Lin Yun, Show Luo and Zhang Yuqi make their moments count so well, The Mermaid becomes a movie that you need to give a try for the elements it possesses, and the divergence that it brings here with its not-so-little mermaid. The combination should feel strange, but if you take each of them separately, you will know that there is some interesting effort at almost everything here. Without that much of a violence in the end, and with more comedy as it had in the beginning supported by better visual effects, The Mermaid could have done more justice to its world. But as of now, with a short run-time, and some moments to remember, this one could be that comedy movie with the environmental message which has the strength to be remembered for a longer period of time than a documentary or a serious movie taking on the same issue. No wonder it is the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time, even after releasing with The Monkey King 2 – the movie has to be enjoyed for the funny side without thinking too much about the story, but do remember the environmental message.
Release date: 8th February 2016
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Stephen Chow
Starring: Deng Chao, Lin Yun, Show Luo, Zhang Yuqi, Kris Wu, Ivan Kotik, Lu Zhengyu, Fan Shuzhen, Li Shangzheng, Bo Xiaolong, Pierre Bourdaud, Kong Lianshun, Chiu Chi Ling, Bai Ke, Tsui Hark, Tin Kai-man, Wen Zhang, Lam Chi-chung, Yang Neng, Zhang Mei’e
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.