‘Is Stephen Chow the Tarantino of China?’ by Sheila Seclearr

Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow is a film legend in China, starting as an actor and directing/producing since the late nineties. His latest film, The Mermaid ( Mei Ren Yu) broke all box-office records in China and it’s not just about his madcap humor. The Guardian called this film a live-action cartoon; the animated water special-effects are amazing. But far beyond looney, The Mermaid remolds a lovelorn screen story (like Avatar) of two characters from warring tribes falling in love. The lovely ingenue, Yun Lin, who plays the mermaid, won her role in a Chinese Idol sort of country-wide competition. The menfolk have sent her into enemy territory because she’s managed to learn to walk and because she oozes innocence and might at least distract the playboy businessman who is poisoning their waters.


Before they can assassinate Xuan (Chao Deng), the young mermaid falls in love with the felon. But the cuts and twists in the sting operation leave the audience reeling. The ringleader of the merpeople is a half man, half octopus hybrid whose tentacles are sliced and ground scene after scene. But its the shocking and bloodthirsty slaughter of the merfellows that bleeds Tarantino. Chow is as close to Tarantino as they have in China and the box-office there tells that story. But Chow unchained brings a similar redemption violence, and the comedic digs at defending the environment with all your life, cut to the bloody truth.