Thursday, January 27, 2011

the Green Hornet [ Movie Review ] ***

 From the Asians perspective, the most memorable aspect of the Green Hornet franchise would be that the TV series helped launched Bruce Lee's career. Years later, the thing that is grabbing our attention  about this big screen adaption of the Green Hornet would be Jay Chou's foray into Hollywood with his rendition of Kato. We all know him as the Taiwanese music megastar who had done quite a few Asian movies recently but how will he fare in a English speaking role and will he be able to fill in the role that Bruce Lee had left behind?

Equally questionable, would Seth Rogen who played the lovable goofy dude that knocked up a babe in Knocked Up do well as the masked crime fighter? Or can Michel Gondry who directed romantic drama like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind be able to handle a superhero genre flick?

The result was that Green Hornet was surprisingly entertaining and refreshing in it's own ways. They took the Batman set up and gave it a spin of it's own. While both are rich man's son that turned into vigilante, Britt Reid (Green Hornet) 's conversion was less than noble (and more juvenile) compared to Bruce Wayne's journey. They both are aided by their trusty sidekick and an array of weapons to fight crime but Green Hornet does it by pretending to be one of the bad guys. And when it comes to taking on the criminal empire, this greenish duo actually rely on Lenore Case ( Cameron Diaz ) a secretary whom Britt Reid had hired to provide them with a master plan.

Are We having Fun yet!
Not quite the dynamic crime fighting duo but that where the charms of Green Hornet lies in. It almost felt like they were spoofing Batman if the Green Hornet wasn't such an established franchise. Seth Rogen's goofy charms rub off nicely on Green Hornet, a crime fighter who relies plenty of help on his sidekick. It made him likable while Kato / Jay Chou is doing all the cool stuff like kungfu fighting, preparing the arsenal and looking cool. The only thing unintentionally funny about Jay Chou's performance would be when he spoke in English. It's not the best that heard from an Asian in a Hollywood film but it's a commendable effort put in by the prince of Taiwan music chart.

This film also knew that Jay Chou could not perform the Bruce Lee's level of kungfu technicalities and chose to cover up with funky computer graphic (or I call it the Kato Vision) that bears hallmarks of Michel Gondry's handiwork. It was so fun to watch that one would forget to catch how fast or slow Jay Chou's Kato is punching or kicking (as compared to the legend).

Besides that, the buddy factors between Britt Reid and Kato were fun to watch. From their joint effort of stumbling into crime fighting to their squabbling over Lenore, there's a certain chemistry between Seth Rogen goofiness and Jay Chou's coolness that rub off nicely.

Last but not least, the various homage to Bruce Lee was pretty fun to catch too. The references to the one inch punch, moving too fast for camera and sketches of Bruce Lee images were just some of the homage that I caught.
the Gun got more character than me

But then again, not everyone will like this movie. The Green Hornet been getting mixed reviews (and mostly bad ones) from Review aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the points that they made are relatable.

Christoph Waltz who had such a fine time playing the villain in Inglourious Basterds (and winning an Oscar for it) was simply not that impressive in Green Hornet. It might be that the script had required him to play a villain who is trying too hard to be cool and more menacing than what his peers think of him. Or it might be that he is trying to play a different type of villain that we saw in Inglourious Basterds. Nevertheless, the result was rather bland villain and every hero is defined by his or her arch enemy (which made the conflict between those two a little less compelling to watch).  

Where are we heading?
The story was also weak in how it construct the heroic changes in Britt Reid / Green Hornet. After the fun subside at the halfway point, it felt that it lacks a certain direction and was just podding along for the finale where the film could drown the audience with loud explosion and gunfights (which could get quite numbing after awhile).

But then again, the Green Hornet is not going to be Dark Knight. The thing is, go for this movie for mild entertainment and not for substance. Think of it as a goofy take on the masked crime fighter genre and appreciate their new spin on this genre as it is. It might be disjointed at times but Green Hornet definitely has its moments for fans of masked avengers. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind catching the sequel if it's ever green lighted. 

Was it worth the 3D price?

The Green Hornet 3D felt like so much like a 2D movie that I wondered why do I have to suffer with a 3D glasses. There's absolutely nothing worth mentioning about the 3Dness of this movie except my eyes tearing up from the usual discomfort from watching 3D movies.

Beyond the Movie

Do you know that The Green Hornet is related to The Lone Ranger? Another masked crime fighter that originated from Radio and TV series. They were both created by George W. Trendle and Fran Strike. Britt Reid is the son of the Lone Ranger's nephew Dan. The Lone Ranger will be getting the big screen treatment soon and Johnny Depp might star as the sidekick to Lone Ranger.

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