Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Another Pandora's Box (2009)

Just Another Pandora's Box (2009)

March 31st, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

When a fairy in ancient China decides to go in search of a popular hero, she instead misidentifies a unscrupulous bandit as the man. Faced with her attentions he makes use of magic to escape into the distant past, and the era of the Three Kingdoms.

Although relatively unknown in the west, director Jeffery Lau has a three decade record of producing popular Hong Kong comedies. One sub-type that he essentially created is a kind of outlandish fantasy film based upon and satirizing traditional Chinese legends. These include the Chinese Odyssey series (1995) in which Stephen Chow starred in a time traveling, irreverent prequel to the novel A Journey to the West about the journey of the Monkey King to help a holy monk retrieve Buddhist scrolls. This film is something of a loose sequel both in tone and the inclusion of several secondary characters.

While Jeffery Lau is not well known in the West, he has a nearly three decade record of hit comedies and it a longtime collaborator of director Wong Kar Wai. His style in this kind of film is similar to the Zucker Brother’s style of American comedies, that is, a dozen jokes a minute and a eye toward popular culture. In this case parodying many of the biggest Chinese films of the last fifteen years.

The most gratuitous subject of parody would have to be John Woo’s two part Red Cliff (2008) film series. While generally popular in the west, there is some sentiment that it takes an overly serious and melodramatic tone, which Lau is quick to parody. The film also includes a wide range of cameos including but not limited to Li Yixiao, Alex Fong, Yuen Biao, Kenny Bee, Cory Yuen, Stephy Tang and Sandra Ng. This helps to maintain the light atmosphere that is the secret of Lau’s popular comedies.

Hong Kong, Director Jeffery Lau, Cast Ronald Cheng, Sun Li, Huang Bo, Eric Tsang, Patrick Tam and Gillian Chung, 96 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles.

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