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The Mermaid (Blu-ray Review)

the mermaid coverCurrently holding the record of being China’s biggest movie of all time, Stephen Chow has directed The Mermaid; a slapstick, romantic comedy with an eye on the fantastical and a heart out for an eco-friendly message. That may sound like a lot, but aside from the lack of kung fu, this film has all the energy found in Chow’s previous hits such as Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. Now audiences will have even more of a chance to check out what has made this film such a popular hit with its new Blu-ray release.

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Film:

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Very loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, The Mermaid tells the story of a greedy real estate tycoon, Liu Xuan (Deng Chao), falling in love with an odd woman. This woman, Shan (Jelly Lin), has two secrets. One is that she was sent to assassinate him and the other is that she is a mermaid. Xuan’s plans involve taking over the Green Gulf harbors in China, which would mean destroying the home of the last surviving mermaids. It becomes all the more complicated when Xuan and Shan fall in love, especially given the frenzy it creates amongst the other characters both human and mermaid.

Despite having a loose inspiration, the setup for this film makes it one of the more original comedies to come along in a while. Chow’s sense of humor certainly adds a special quality that makes his films so likable, but the sheer imagination involved in creating these mermaids and setting up their world was especially enjoyable. Not at all hurting were the efforts of the cast to show how game they were.

Both Choa and newcomer Lin have great chemistry together and are both quite able to deliver on the silliness required for this film. Much like some of the best Mel Brooks films, the comedy is less about the funny dialogue and more about how well the performers can put on a straight face as so much wackiness happens around them. There’s also the matter of the great visual gags.

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One of The Mermaids great joys is taking pleasure in placing mermaid characters in real world situations. The lack of feet leads to a number of awkward scenes. One character is actually half octopus, which really allows for some hilarious and wildly creative moments. The whole film does it best to deliver on gags, with a portion of the film actually working hard to make it about something.

As mentioned, the plot surrounds the possible destruction of the Green Gulf, which is a real location. Some of this area is exaggerated for obvious reasons, but Chow and his team of writers clearly wanted to push out a message concerning the preservation of wildlife. The film does not do too much to bog itself down in this concept, but there is a level of drama that stems from the action taking place in the film’s surprisingly action-packed finale. It’s actually the (minor) amount of violence that earns the film its ‘R’ rating, but it’s hardly enough to say The Mermaid isn’t fit for most audiences.

The Mermaid is a joy to watch, as that is what Chow is great at delivering. While I was initially surprised he wasn’t starring in the film, he has put together a great cast who play well with his sense of humor. The visual effects, while a little too cartoony at times, also show a desire to play along with other effects-filled features of today and deliver on the imaginative vision of this film. Seek out The Mermaid, as it really earns the status of being China’s biggest film.

 

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: The Mermaid features a strong Blu-ray presentation that does an especially good job of showing off the interesting character designs and wild sets. There is a great level of clarity seen throughout the film, but the image does soften when it comes to the zanier visual effects featured at various times.

Depth: Characters bounce in and out of frame during big comedic and action sequences, which provide plenty of examples of solid depth.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep enough.

Color Reproduction: As mentioned, there are moments where the image appears slightly soft, but the use of color appearing throughout does help spring this film to life. The sets and locations also allow for some great visual moments, featuring lots of color.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are present with great clarity, working well with the rest of the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Polish, Spanish, Thai

Dynamics: The lossless soundtrack is quite good, as the film balances quieter moments with the big action that takes place. Sound effects are big for a film like this and it all comes across quite clear.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel has enough to work with, given all the action in play later on in the film, along with the use of score.

Surround Sound Presentation: Stephen Chow’s comedic stylings allow for a fine use of the various channels when it comes to hearing this film. The center channel gets the most play, but the sides have plenty to work with as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is consistently clean and clear.

 

Extras:

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Unfortunately China’s biggest movie of all time does not mean it gets a packed Blu-ray release, when it comes to extras. All we have here is just a few featurettes with English subtitles.

Features Include:

  • The Mermaid: Behind The Scenes (HD, 13:25) – A standard making-of that offers scant details about the various aspects of production.
  • Invincible Music Video (HD, 1:34)
  • The Making of The Mermaid (HD, 1:44) – A redundant extra, as it’s just a condensed version of the longer making-of clip.
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

 

Summary:

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It is a shame this Blu-ray disc does not have more to offer, as the film is very much worth anyone’s time that is a fan of solid, original comedy. With that in mind, The Mermaid does look and sound quite good and does plenty to boost the qualities found in this wonderful Stephen Chow comedy.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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