At the risk of pissing off our rich and powerful film producer friends and thereby never getting invited to a press junket again, we want to begin this movie review with a simple declarative sentence, the likes of which has not and may never be seen again in film criticism: the movie Blood Brothers (天堂口) sucked ass.
If you were to ask why first-time helmer Alexi Tan’s film sucked, when it had John Woo executive producing and had notable actors such as Sun Honglei, Daniel Wu, Shu Qi, and Chang Chen in the lead roles, we’d have to elaborate and say that the script was not just mired in cliche, it was in fact a pure concatenation of cliches, we mean one-after-afuckingnother for the entire length of the film. Three country boys decide to try their luck in jazz age Shanghai, where they meet surly gangsters, cool-hand assassins and sultry jazz vixens, and get mixed up in this business until the in-born moral compass that all country folk have spins till don’t they know what’s right and what’s wrong.
The production design was nice, if a bit too slick. Everyone looked good in their suits, the trolleys looked real, and Shu Qi proved that she could still cause a hard-on or two, but beyond that, it was complete vacuousness. The nightclub called “Paradise” where all the shit goes down was likely the source of more shitty metaphors than all the teenage poetry produced in Canada in the last twenty years.
Like a Chinese blogger said, film directors that come from music video backgrounds often are so lost in form that they completely neglect content, and that even the best actors can’t really do much with a shite script. Sun Honglei has his moments as the Shanghai godfather gangsta, but does so only mastering actorly tics such as laughing crazy when you’re about to get killed, lighting cigars and cigarettes with style and blowing smoke around your face, etc. One of the peasant girls (a dead ringer for Zhou Xun), is shy, wide-eyed, and has pigtails. She also cooks and cleans, and waits for her man as long as it takes. Go figure.
When one of the major characters dies at the end of the movie, you see HER lover cradle her in his arms while she spits the obligatory blood right at the camera, and he soothingly tells her that it’ll be all right, and that they are going to be happy soon, blah blah blah.
If you have indeed gotten this far in reading this review, thank you, because we really needed to bitch and didn’t have much chance to do so between watching the movie last night and writing this review this evening. We’ll be in a better mood soon.
Oh yeah, this blogger thought it sucked too. One of the commenters said he had the urge to leave the cinema in the middle of the movie, but was with other people and didn’t want to be an asshole.