Blu-ray Review Comedy

'The Mermaid' Blu-ray Review: An out-of-this-world fish-out-of-water tale

July 22, 2016Ben MK

When it comes to films about anthropomorphic aquatic creatures, Disney's The Little Mermaid takes the cake. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a mermaid tale half as wacky as Stephen Chow's The Mermaid, a movie about a half-human, half-fish that's part love story, part slapstick comedy and part pro-environmental yarn.

The storyline revolves around a plot to assassinate a wealthy industrialist named Liu Xuan (Chao Deng), whose plan to develop a remote coastal region called the Green Gulf is killing off the dolphins, fish and all other marine life in the area. The twist, however, is that it's not some radical environmentalists who are scheming against Liu, but a community of mermaids — plus one very determined octopus (Show Lo) — whose very existence is being threatened by the sonar transmitters his company has been placing in the waters they call home.

Tasked with seducing and then terminating their enemy is Shan (Jelly Lin), a mermaid who's been specially trained in the art of pretending to be human. However, when she unexpectedly develops feelings for her target, it throws the whole plan into jeopardy. In the end, though, the more dangerous opponent may be the one no one ever saw coming: wealthy realtor Li Ruo-lan (Zhang Yu Qi), a sexy business associate of Liu's with a jealous streak and secret plans for the Green Gulf's inhabitants, making her a force not to be trifled with.

Of course, a good point of reference for anyone thinking of checking out The Mermaid would be Kung Fu Hustle, Chow's 2004 comedy, which seems oddly tame in comparison, even though it features dancing gangsters and Looney Tunes style action. Make no mistake, The Mermaid isn't for everyone. But once you get beyond its off-the-wall premise and eccentric humor, you'll find a film that's downright sincere. And it's the way that Chow balances the movie's yin-and-yang nature that keeps The Mermaid from going belly up in the water.

Despite The Mermaid's US 60-million-dollar budget, the film's computer-generated visual effects sometimes have trouble keeping up with the ambitions of the story. Still, this Blu-ray transfer keeps the movie looking handsome, with a fantastic level of fine detail that reveals the subtlety of make-up effects, excellent color saturation that does justice to the vibrant color palette, and black levels that are as deep as the ocean itself. As for sound quality, a pair of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks provide viewers with the option to watch the film with its original Mandarin soundtrack or with an English dub. Either way, dialogue and music are crisp, and effects like the sound of waterfalls, flapping fins and the echoing of voices inside a cavernous ship's hull bring a sense of scope to the sound design, which opens up considerably in the movie's final act, adding gunfire and explosions to the mix.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy, plus the following Blu-ray extras:

  • The Making of The Mermaid (13:25) - A making-of piece that touches on Stephen Chow as director, the actors' experiences, the production design, the stunt work, the cinematography and the visual effects.
  • Invincible Music Video (1:34) - A brief video for the film's theme song, featuring Stephen Chow and select cast members.
  • The Mermaid: Behind the Scenes (1:49) - A short look at the movie's principal cast.

The Mermaid is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of July 5th, 2016. The Blu-ray features Mandarin (PRC) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian, Polish, Spanish and Thai subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 34 Mins.

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