A Chinese Tall Story (HK 2005)

Rating: **
Review Date: 11/30/08
Director: Jeff Lau
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi, cameos by Wei Ying Hung, Yuen Wah, Gordon Liu (Liu Chia Hui), Isabella Leong, Bingbing Fan

Ugh. What the hell is this crap?!? I reluctantly had to give it two stars simply because it features some outstanding eye-popping imagery, but that's not enough to justify watching the film in the first place. "A Chinese Tall Story" is a very loose interpretation of the classic "Journey To The West," except this time the righteous monk Tripitaka (Nicholas Tse) ends up losing his faith and falling in love with an imp named Meiyan (Charlene Choi). Tripitaka's students (including the Monkey King, Wukong) have been imprisoned by a tree demon and it's up to him and Meiyan to save them - if they can reconcile their endless differences, that is. Oh yeah, space aliens play a major role in the story too.

This ridiculous farce sits comfortably among Wong Jing's worst and most outrageous output of the early nineties, and features the same painfully unfunny slapstick. Nicholas Tse even dons a Spider-man costume, if that's any indication of the level of stupidity going on. The plot is a confusing jumble of silly antics strung together by a barrage of incomprehensible and overly self important visual effects. While most of the effects are gratuitous and uninteresting, there are a number of shots that really work well and have a strong emotional impact. Joe Hisaishi's emotionally resonant music score is beautiful and compliments the imagery nicely. Nicholas Tse and Charlene Choi give excellent performances despite the material, and Bingbing Fan is amazingly gorgeous as an alien princess. She actually reminded me a whole lot of a young Cynthia Khan with her impish charm. The copy of the movie I saw must have been a bootleg because the box cover lists Andy Lau, Chingmy Yau, Cheung Man, and Ng Man Tat as starring in the film, and they're quite clearly not. I have to give credit to director Jeff Lau for being so experimental and creative with this film, but it's far too goofy and non-sensical for me to actually enjoy.