Friday, 24 February 2017

The Current Cinema - Barrie Pattison reports on a new Chinese movie DUCKWEED (Han Han, 2017)

Dipping into the flow of Asian cinema in the multiplexes is a haphazard process. One of the few titles to hang around is Cheng feng po lang /Duckweed from race driver cum director Han Han. It’s been quite sympathetically reviewed and it’s a whole lot better than some of the other current offerings. 

The opening ocean front cliff road rally drive is full of great road and helicopter shots with Deng Chao crossing the line with a burst of coloured rockets. An ungracious acceptance speech is basically saying I told you so to his glasses wearing dad Eddie Peng 

Driving with Peng, they crash, launching a montage purporting to be our hero’s life flashing in front of his eyes (complete with captions) and he wakes up in 1998 where he encounters his dad as a young man, joining his gang that basically consists of computer nerd Dong Zi-jian and would be mobster Zack Gao, who dives into the canal when the local unformed cycle cop shows up. They are trying to ape the behavior of the Hong Kong gangsters they see in movies. Their rivals headed by Zhang Ben-yu are pretty much just as dumb but they have a pistol.

Things slow down when we get into the Back to the Future sub-plot of Chao looking for the mother he never knew and trying to displace his dad’s girl friend Li-ying. Father and undeclared son end up hitting the vengeance trail.

Peng whose VHS store didn’t work out, leaves a case of state of the art pagers sure to increase in value in the future to provide for his impending off spring when the law catches up with him.

A few images do get attention - the zoom effect down the extending corridor, individual scenics round the river, passing under a bridge or the duo standing on the boat filled with bright green algae- but attention wanders. Potentially interesting characters like the bike cops just vanish. It could lose 20 minutes.

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