Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 19th March 2013
Directed by: Xu Zheng
Starring: Xu Zheng, Wang Baoqiang, Huang Bo, Fan Bingbing
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Reviewed as part of 7th Asian Film Awards 2013
It is only a matter of time before Chinese cinema will come of age and with “Lost in Thailand”, they seen to have finally capture the essence of good fun commercial cinema and the result is the biggest Box office hit ever to hit the Mainland. It is also worth nothing that both “Painted Skin Resurrection” and this film are sequel to films produced and directed by Hong Kong film makers. However both sequels are made by Chinese film makers and are arguably far bigger hit. How you interpret this result is entirely up to you. Still, “Lost in Thailand” is exactly how you direct an over the top comedy and when you have three of China’s hottest stars in the mix, it is pretty much bound to work. If there is one film that has surpassed the now dented pride of Hong Kong cinema, this is as close as it gets. If they keep making films like these, it will be sooner rather than later.
Setting the film in Thailand is a smart move as it allows the actors to be in a fish out of water situation. It also allow the comedic gags to be more over the top style and hilarious. With the influx of Chinese tourist all over the world, many laughs are bound to be universal, rather than local.
The film will not be a success without the uncanny chemistry in the duo of Xu Zheng (also directing) and Wang Baoqiang. Wang Baoqiang is outright funny as the kid in adult body. His inflation with national treasure Fan Bing Bing provides the film with one of its many laughs. In fact Wang Baoqiang is like Zach Galifianakis in “Hangover”, as he is so effortlessly hilarious and laughter situations just tend to follow him everywhere. Xu Zheng is more retrained of the two and the manner how he slowly loosen up after one mishap more serious than the previous one is truly enjoyable to witness. Xu Zheng has good presence and plays well the immature nature of Wang Baoqiang wonderfully. Huang Bo, the it guy in Mainland cinema at the moment just cannot put a foot wrong. Despite his limited screen time and not much insight into his character, Bo has the unique ability to simply chew scenery and steal almost every scene. Adding the three together in a pot is exactly who hot pot is so popular in Chinese culture.
Director Xu Zheng hits all the right marks from its maniac pacing, non stop gags and plenty of big and loud laugh out moments. It is a hallmark of a good blockbuster film, when the audience never cease to be entertained and go along with characters on the frantic ride. With a huge budget to boot, the film possesses excellent production values, vivid look and cinematography of the modern and exotic Thailand location, all add up to a true blockbuster film making qualities in the east.
All in all, “Lost in Thailand” is exactly how you balance local Mainland Chinese humour and universal comedy to make this a true blockbuster of a film. Chinese film-makers have been trying for years to make something truly commercial and appeal to the masses and with this film, it comes a formula, which will undoubtedly be repeated many more times in the future. If this film is to show the world one thing, a quality commercial film can still exist within the censored boundaries and that Chinese cinema is really an elephant waiting to be awaken. I look forward to “Lost in America” for the next globalisation sequel and maybe throw in Brad Pitt for the laughs.
I rated it 9/10
“Lost in Thailand” won the Biggest Box office hit in Asia for 2012 at the 7th Asian Film Awards 2013.