ContactSales: Filmko Entertainment ([email protected])
Theatrical release: China, 15 Oct 2010; Hong Kong, 28 Oct 2010.
Presented by Filmko Pictures Beijing (CN), Shenzhen Golden Shores Films (CN), Beijing Wenhua Dongrun Investment (CN), Guangzhou Interstellar Art Broadcasting (CN), Filmko Entertainment (HK). Produced by Filmko Pictures Beijing (CN), Shenzhen Golden Shores Films (CN). Executive producers: Alex Wong, Mu Yadong, John Cheung, Kiefer Liu. Producers: Kiefer Liu [Ah Gan], Dominic Yip.
Script: Ah Gan, Yu Baimei, Jackie Poon. Photography: Parkie Chan. Editing: T.K. Tang. Music: Zhao Zhao. Production design: Daniel Fu, Angel Yu. Art direction: Fang Liang. Costume design: Maggie Wang, Angel Yu. Special make-up effects: Wang Nai-peng. Sound: Yin Jie. Action: Xiong Xinxin. Visual effects: Ah Gan, Jenny Jiang. Choreography: Hua Ming.
Cast: Guo Tao (Tang Fanghai/Don Quixote), Wang Gang (Sang Qiu/Sancho), Karena Lam (Sang Cuihua/Princess Fragrance), Miao Pu (Jin Xiang Tong), Liu Hua (Linghu), Paul Chun (Dongfang), Hai Yi Tian (Ximen), Ying Zhuang (Sima Wan, the Daoist), Hong Jiantao (inn owner), Xiong Xinxin (eunuch in black), Wang Shuangbao (Godfather), Li Jing (Hen San), Niu Ben (Don Quixote's father), Fang Qingzhuo (Don Quixote's mother), Ba Duo (old beggar), Na Wei (official advisor), Li Jingtong (Cuihua's father), Feng Li (farmer on island), Deng Jiajia (woman on donkey), Dong Lifan (Sangqiu's wife), Monico Mok (woman on island), Zhang Jinming (Xiao Hong, the famous prostitute), Sun Xing, Xiao Jian, Li Xiaochuan, Zhang Kejia, Jiao Yang, Li Yu (knight-errants), Morris Rong (butcher), Wu Yajin (cook), Yan Guanying (tailor), Tao Rui (girl buying bird), Xiao Shen Long (male performer), Jin Wawa (female performer), Liu Yongling, Gao Ya (peasants' wives), Liu Jin (acountant), Xing Xiao (villager), Chen Zhi (servant in black), Chi Lifei (Sangqiu's daughter), Zhou Hao (Sangqiu's son), Deng Mingjiang (Dongfang's servant).
Don Quixote 魔俠傳之唐吉可德
Costume action fantasy
2010, colour, 3-D, 2.35:1, 106 mins
Directed by Ah Gan (阿甘)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 25 January 2011, 22:19 PM (HKT)
Chinese comic version of Cervantes' fool-hero lacks pathos and drama below its 3-D surface. Beyond Asia, genre festivals, plus some niche ancillary.
China, Tang dynasty. Tang Fanghai (Guo Tao) is the bane of his parents, an adult dreamer who lives in a world of martial arts novels and their knight-errant heroes. One day he decides to leave home and become a knight-errant himself, calling himself Tang Jihede (Don Quixote), donning armour, christening his horse with a fancy name, and making a local village girl, Cuihua (Karena Lam), into his idealised paramour, Princess Fragrance. After paying an old beggar on a mountain top (Ba Duo) to beat him and "unblock" his magic powers, Tang jousts with the villainous Linghu (Liu Hua), whose sect leader, Godfather (Wang Shuangbao), wants to make off with Cuihua. Tang is unable to prevent Cuihua's abduction but recruits fellow villager Sang Qiu (Wang Gang) as his sidekick with the promise of making him governor of an island. On the way to the capital, Chang'an, he imagines a windmill is a dust-devil that is about to overwhelm an army, and "defeats" it. And at an inn, he fights and defeats another of Godfather's followers, the epicene Ximen (Hai Yi Tian). By the time he reaches the capital, he has become famous as a heroic knight-errant, and goes to face Linghu, Ximen and fellow tyrant Dongfang (Paul Chun) at their sect's headquarters, where Cuihua is being held for Godfather's pleasure.
Describing itself as "Asia's first wholly 3-D movie" — only the action sequences in YUEN Woo-ping 袁和平's True Legend 蘇乞兒 (2009) were in that process — Mainland comic director Ah Gan 阿甘 (aka Kiefer Liu) aims very high with this big-budget Chinese version of Miguel de Cervantes' 17th-century classic novel but only occasionally hits the target. On paper, the Spanish original seems ripe for adaptation as a wuxia movie, as the mediaeval knights' code is not a million miles from that of Chinese swordplay fiction, and Don Quixote 魔俠傳之唐吉可德 (2010) starts off quite faithfully, with popular Mainland comic actor GUO Tao 郭濤 (an Ah Gan regular) managing to blend the two cultures into an entertaining figure with his likable combination of chivalrous innocence and complete stupidity. However, after about half-an-hour — around the time the film leaves behind the novel and embarks on its own invented story — it becomes clear that it isn't developing any dramatic momentum of its own.
It isn't just a matter of Guo Tao's character remaining one-dimensional and accruing no pathos. Beyond its good visual effects — apart from the dust-devil, largely focused on mistily mythic mountain peaks for 3-D purposes — the film is directed more like a TV drama series than a big-screen adventure, with lots of studio sets (even for exterior shots) and dialogue sequences. The repartee between Guo's knight-errant and WANG Gang 王剛's Sancho Panza-like sidekick is good; but after a while veteran Wang, a popular TV drama actor and presenter (hosting Beijing TV's popular antiques quiz show World Collection 天下收藏), gradually becomes the most interesting character in the movie, especially in his dialogue with other actors like LI Jing 李菁's oily lackey. Good actresses like Hong Kong's Karena LAM 林嘉欣 — stuck in a screamy role as the abducted "princess" — and China's MIAO Pu 苗圃 are wasted.
When Ah Gan is on form (as with Two Stupid Eggs 兩個傻瓜的荒唐事 (2007)), his style of ridiculous comedy can be both funny and inventive. Here, he seems overwhelmed by the scale of the production and its technical demands, as well as (on the scriptwriting side) the challenge of making his Chinese Don Quixote more than just a lightly comic cut-out. On the production side, the movie looks reasonably well-appointed but not lavish, and its rich symphonic score by ZHAO Zhao 趙兆 is consistently more expressive than the movie itself.