What I thought about the film. Ahem.
Well, let’s start with what expectations I had coming into the film. Well I hadn’t seen the trailer though a number of my friends had raved about it during Japanime 02 and it was Rosamund Kwan (whom I hadn’t seen since the Once Upon a Time in China series) with a dead Donald Sutherland. So automatically, one thinks an East meets West scenario. And it is. There’s no denying it. However, normally these kind films play off the conflicts and the differences whereas this one focussed on the similarities and how, at the very least, Chinese culture has embraced a number of American/Western aspects to be where it is now. Of course, this is not always a good thing. If anything, Big Shot’s Funeral shows that “communist” <snigger> China can produce just as crass and commercial productions as their counterparts in the decadent capitalist West.
There is no doubt though that the central character is Yoyo (You Ge). The movie starts by establishing the relationship he develops with Tyler as much as the kind of person he is. Once Tyler is out of the picture, You Ge shines as the resourceful, yet principled scoundrel trying to pay proper tribute to his friend. As he gets inundated with the financing of the funeral, you can’t help but root for him just as much as you fear that he is losing himself.
Lucy, and Tyler as well, demonstrate a sense of ethics that goes against the corrupting power of Hollywood that float around these days. Though Lucy is introduced as the pragmatic one, she is the one that comes out of the movie without the taint of compromise unlike Tyler and Yoyo with their grand visions and willingness to do what it takes to achieve it. Being the cynical bastard that I am, my first thought was that this is because she is the romantic lead. However, my soul is not black enough to not notice that is provides a juxtaposition to Yoyo and Tyler’s ‘ends justifies means’ approach and provides an emotional anchor to them both.
The dynamics between the two leads, Rosamund Kwan and You Ge, does seemed strained at first but then that is the relationship their characters have. As the movie progresses and their rapport builds (after all, who wouldn’t want to fall for Rosamund Kwan) after Tyler’s stroke, the awkwardness remains which seemed natural and I found refreshing.
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable film. Especially relevant to Western fans of Asian cinema as it blows the exoticism normally associated with Asian films out of the water. It is not an over the top comedy and it is not heavy handed in its messages. Just an entertaining film that’s worth seeing and can provide some light conversation afterwards.