Xuan's estate project involving reclamation of the sea threatens the livelihood of the mermaids who rely on the sea to survive. Shan is dispatched to stop Xuan and this leads them into falling for each other. Out of his love for Shan, Xuan plans to stop the reclamation. Unfortunately, Shan and the other mermaids are hunted by a hidden organization, and Xuan has to save Shan before it's too late.
It seems every time Stephen Chow comes out with a new movie, he breaks new box office records in China. Chow gave us 'Shaolin Soccer', 'Kung Fu Hustle' and 'CJ7'. His new film 'The Mermaid' was released earlier this year and broke all sorts of box office records until it became the biggest money making movie in China. I guess you could say this is like the 'Star Wars' of China, since the film was shot in secret and was not allowed to screen for critics in advance of the film coming out. If you've seen any of Chow's movies before, you would know how insane and over-the-top they are. But you would also know that in addition the chaos on his films, he adds a ton of heart and soul to each movie that keeps it somewhat grounded at its core.
With 'The Mermaid', everything is turned to eleven as this film mixes mermaids with action, romance, comedy, slapstick, music, and ridiculous visual effects in a very funny way. It's easy to see why so many people like this movie. It's something completely different and original and unlike anything you've ever seen before. There's just so much to take in. The film centers on a man named Lui Xuan (Chao Deng), a very rich playboy, who buys and sells companies several times a day, makes billions of dollars, and has numerous girls on his arm at all times. His latest endeavor was purchasing the Green Gulf, which is a coastal area that he planned to fix up, but is secretly inhabited by a colony of mermaids.
Using sonar to rid the Green Gulf of sea life to make way for the project, the mermaids have fallen ill and have died due. Only a few survivors are left, one of them being Shan (Yun Lin), a beautiful mermaid who can actually walk with her fins and blend in with humans. The mermaids choose Shan to assassinate Xuan, but the two fall in love and a war ensues that will test their love and loyalty. Chow never holds back anything here. All of the comedy and action is so silly and so energetic that it all has this insane fantasy vibe. You can't believe what your eyes are actually watching.
Each scene is more ridiculous than the last, but at its core, the film is about love and doing the right thing. All of the performances are just so witty and chaotic, that you can't help by fall in love with every single character. They all really throw themselves into their roles at full force and never back down. Between all of the mermaids, colorful characters, rotisserie chickens, and a giant octopus man, 'The Mermaid' never holds back on any emotion or act of comedy. This is truly a one of a kind film and shouldn't be missed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Mermaid' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures and is Region A Locked. There is an insert for the digital download code here too. Even though the film was shot in 3D, this is not a 3D disc. The Blu-ray disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
'The Mermaid' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. No doubt about it, this video presentation is excellent. The detail is very vivid and sharp in both closeups and wide shots throughout the movie. The old, rusted tankers in the films looks incredible with every piece of rust and scratch coming through nicely. The textures in the elegant offices and water-soaked interiors look incredible. It all brings the film to life. The makeup effects, facial lines, wrinkles, and mermaid fins are incredibly detailed too.
Wider shots proved a lot of visual depth to the film in this weird world. Colors pop off screen most of the time and are bright, bold and stunning. Primaries looks great with richness. Black levels are always deep and inky and the skin tones are natural throughout. There were no compression issues to speak of, with the exception of some minor video noise, but it's nothing really to write home about, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which you can listen to in the original Chinese language or the English dubbed version. Like the video above, this audio presentation is excellent. Your speaker system will definitely get a good workout here. The sound effects, from the mermaids going in and out of the water, to the explosive gunshots, to the fantastic splashes and sounds from the rusted out tankers are incredible. Each noise is layered and well balanced with some great directionality. It's quite an immersive experience.
The score always sounds great and adds to the tension and silliness of the whole film without drowning any other aspect of the audio out. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with the subtitles. The English dubbed version is silly, but sounds great. The bass kicks into high gear in the heavier action moments without going into rocky territory, which gives this audio mix a very full sound. There are no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this audio presentation with solid marks.
Make of 'The Mermaid' (HD, 14 Mins.) - This is a brief behind the scenes featurette that tries to get all extras into one, that includes the set design, directing the film, working as a mermaid, the costumes and makeup, a blooper reel, the use of 3D, and more. It's a decent extra.
'The Mermaid': Behind the Scenes (HD, 2 Mins.) - A very short collection of interviews with the filmmakers and actors on the film with some B roll footage.
Music Video (HD, Mins.) - A music video for the song 'Invincible'.
'The Mermaid' is definitely a strange movie and it's not for everyone. If you love the work of Steven Chow, you'll LOVE this one. Visually and technically, 'The Mermaid' is great. The performances are strong and fun, and the chaotic nature of the film is just enlightening and contagious, as with all of Chow's films. The video and audio presentations are excellent and the bonus features are short yet sweet. I still don't know why this movie is the biggest movie of all time in China, but it certainly has a charm to it. Highly recommended!