|Starring||Ma Li, Song Jia, Eric Tsang, Zhang Haiyu|
Song Jia and Ma Li, and Eric Tsang. Three awesome actors being directed by the woman behind a lot of Fan Bingbing movies, including that 2007 controversial one.
Based on some well loved Japanese novels, and featuring an beautiful Tiger, all the bits were there for a great film. But wow is this a disaster.
What’s this movie about?
An ex-zoologist contacts a trio of Pet Detectives, and not the cool Ace Ventura type, to get their help in rescuing her kidnapped Tiger from a rich businessman who for some reason has developed a super drug that gives the user a euphoric yet heart stopping high.
With the help of slapstick, bad jokes and an abundance of 1990’s style CGI, the four of them liberate Nana the tiger from her captor, only for her to be set loose in the city resulting in what should have been an action packed rescue, but ends up being a tedious CGI filled set piece of non-excitement.
My Thoughts on this Movie
The movie starts off by telling us that what we are about to watch is an Urban Fairytale, or actually as the opening title cards says: Fair Tale. Once I saw this typo, I had a gut feeling I was going to be in for a bad time. The typos didn’t end there though, they’re littered all throughout the subtitles, and including the strange grammatical errors, it made me wonder why they bothered. This film is clearly never intended for an international audience.
The biggest error though is the title: Tiger Robbers? You mean Tiger Thieves? Or Tiger Liberators? But Robbers? Is it a play on words reference to Cops and Robbers?
Issues with the film continue when it takes more than 20 minutes to get to the meat of the story. In that time, the movie goes through some painstaking and hyperactive character development, but by the time the actual plot kicks in and begins, I really didn’t care anymore.
I just wanted the fucking movie to be over. Go get the tiger, have a party and a happy ending and let the audience get back to their lives. That was the only win-win on offer.
But the filmmaker went the long way around. Ramping up the hyperactivity to such a level that even the most tweaked person wouldn’t be able to follow it. You know how there are movies where some people say: this movie is so much better when you’re high? Well I don’t even think being high could save this movie.
You’d think having two of the Top 10 best Chinese actresses from the last decade would help the movie? But all it’s done is leave a stain on their careers. Ma Li tries more than she needs to, but she never moves past third gear, playing it safe with her tone and actions and doing just more than the bare minimum to make it out like she there for more than just the pay check, but Song Jia? What the heck has she done? I admire her for her breathtaking performances in her past films like The Shadow Play, but this film is a disaster. This is her Waterworld. That’s a Kevin Costner 90’s reference for those who don’t understand, it was a movie that ruined his career.
She overacts to the point of it being a pantomime, except its just not funny. And after 20 minutes of frustration at the beginning, I just didn’t care about her, her story or the poor tiger. And I wanted to see the tiger, because as you all know Tigers are awesome.
Is there anything good in this movie? Well, if we’re looking for positives, then the fairytale setting has at least allowed for some visual eye candy. There’s lots of bright colours and busy sets. There’s always something whacky in the background like the apple core in the office or the mouth toilet in the compound. At the end there is a huge pop culture reference with lots of cosplaying costumers and of course there are a lot of cute animals.
But then that leads to the next bit I hated. The CGI. There is so much CGI here to the point where at any given time more than 50% of the frame is just digital artwork. China has an obsession with CGI birds, and while the Eagle in Caught In Time looked great, the Seagull here looks awful, which then leads to this awful looking car and the overall poor look of the Tiger.
I disliked this film so much that I completed its 105 minute run time in 80 minutes, and that included a 5 minute break to get a snack. In fact, I skipped 20 minutes of the film just to get to the ending to see what happened, and I felt like I missed nothing other than avoiding more frustration.
And if you think my review is negative, check out what some of the users say on Douban. The Chinese are far more brutal on this film than I could ever be.
This movie gets 19 thumbs down. And I feel sorry for you if you’ve seen.