Just Call Me Nobody 大笑江湖
Costume martial arts comedy
2010, colour, 2.35:1, 94 mins
Directed by Kevin Chu (朱延平)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 04 January 2011, 23:50 PM (HKT)
Poorly scripted action antics in Ancient China, with a weak lead in currently hot comic Xiao Shen Yang. Beyond China, negligible.
Ancient China. Poor young cobbler Wu Di (Xiao Shen Yang) lives with his mother (Chen Hui-chuen) and is crazy about martial-arts picture books. One day he repairs the shoe of wandering swordswoman Yuelou (Kelly Lin) and later helps save her in a fight with wanted criminal Tian Baguang (Chang Li-wei), even though he has no martial-arts training. She tells him she owes him a life and can be found on Qin Mountain if he ever needs her. Yuelou is actually a princess who was due to marry the emperor (Julian Chen) but ran away after setting fire to her palace quarters. In love, Wu Di sets out to find her, fighting river pirate Dugu (Zhao Benshan) and his sidekick (Cheng Ye) on the way, and also meeting a hermit Buddhist monk (Jacky Wu) who offers to take him on as a pupil. Yuelou plans to attend a martial arts tournament to establish her name, little knowing that the emperor's chief eunuch Cheng (Norman Tsui) has arranged for her to be secretly protected by Penal Bureau officer Yang Guo (Eric Tsang) and to win the tournament, so the emperor can award her the prize and persuade her to reconsider marriage. General Li (Bryan Leung), who is actually Wu Di's long-lost father, is assigned to find her. Meanwhile, Wu Di meets Yuelou at an inn run by Rouge Red Phoenix (Tien Niu), who specialises in secret recipes for poisons.
Though it shoots for pan-Asian appeal, with a cast of Mainlanders (ZHAO Benshan 趙本山), Taiwanese (Kelly LIN 林熙蕾, Jacky WU 吳宗憲, Julian CHEN 陳志朋, veteran TIEN Niu 恬妞), Hong Kongers (Eric TSANG 曾志偉, Norman TSUI 徐少強), and even a solitary Singaporean (Mark LEE 李國煌), Just Call Me Nobody 大笑江湖 (2010) is basically a vehicle for currently hot Mainland stand-up comic Xiao Shen Yang 小瀋陽 — and that's the problem. His special brand of wimpiness got him through ZHANG Yimou 張藝謀's A Simple Noodle Story 三槍拍案驚奇 (2009), as the film was driven by a strong surrounding cast and a smart script and direction. In Nobody, however, Xiao Shen Yang's screen limitations are horribly exposed, both by the slapdash writing of NING Caishen 寧財神 (Kung Fu Hip Hop 精舞門 (2008), Color Me Love 愛出色 (2010)) and by the usual lack of any directorial focus by Taiwanese veteran Kevin CHU 朱延平 (Kung Fu Dunk 灌籃 (2008)). As a weedy martial-arts fan who falls for a runaway princess-cum-swordswoman, Xiao Shen Yang lacks the screen presence to hold together such a raggedy action comedy, which quickly devolves into a series of strained comic episodes which aren't inherently funny.
Veteran comedian Zhao, who was Xiao Shen Yang's teacher and also co-produced, looks out-of-place in this kind of goofy picture, and makes little impression. At the other end of the performance scale, both Tsang and Taiwanese chat-show host Wu go all-out as if they're in an offshore New Year comedy, while '70s veteran Tien Niu has slightly more success in an extended guest appearance as a crazed poisoner. Lee, one of Singapore's funniest actors (especially in Jack NEO 梁智強's comedies), is thrown away in an action cameo that lasts about two minutes. Stuck somewhere in the middle between Xiao Shen Yang's simpering and the other actors' bluffness, Lin has an engaging natural charm but not much of a role. The prolific Chu's previous movie, The Treasure Hunter 刺陵 (2009), was not even primarily a comedy, but it had more laughs — and even more inventive action — than Nobody.
ContactSales: Distribution Workshop (email@example.com)
Theatrical release: China, 3 Dec 2010; Taiwan, 26 Jan 2011.
Presented by Beijing Bona Film & TV Cultural Communications (CN), Benshan Media (Beijing) (CN), Yen Ping Films Production (TW), Media China (CN), Bona Entertainment (CN). Produced by Yen Ping Films Production (TW). Executive producers: Yu Dong, Zhao Benshan, Kevin Chu, Wang Hong, Jeffrey Chan. Producer: Fargo Pi.
Script: Ning Caishen. Photography: Du Jie. Editing: Chen Po-wen. Music: Ricky Ho. Art direction: Ben Lau. Costume design: Shirley Chan. Sound: Duu Tu-chih. Action: Tony Ching. Martial arts: Huang Ming-chien. Visual effects: Frankie Chung (Part 3 Digital Art Design, Shanghai). Executive director: Hsu Cheng-chao.
Cast: Xiao Shen Yang (Wu Di), Kelly Lin (Yuelou), Julian Chen (emperor), Zhao Benshan (river pirate Dugu), Jacky Wu (Buddhist monk), Eric Tsang (Yang Guo), Mark Lee (Fu Dongfang), Little Bean (young Wu Di), Tien Niu (Rouge Red Phoenix), Cheng Ye (Ma Chou-tzu, Dugu's sidekick), Bi Chang (Rouge Phoenix), Zhai Xingyue (Red Phoenix), Bryan Leung (Wu Xiaowei, Wu Di's father/General Li), Norman Tsui (Eunuch Cheng), Hou Tung-chiang (Huang Chang), Chen Hui-chuen (Wu Di's mother), Chang Li-wei (Tian Baguang), Kao Tzu-feng (Wang Chung-yang), Xue'er (concubine), Weng Xiaoxiao (Yu Jiao Long), Shih Ming-hsi (Luo Xiaohu), Chang Shao-huai (Koryo man), Wang Pi-chi (Koryo woman), Wanh Hsiao-hu (Ximen), Chang Hsiao-kwang (Xiao Ye), Huang Yifei (swordshop owner), Hao Han (Xiao Pang), Liu Hsing (Xiao Lin), Chang Kuo-ying (ugly woman), Kuo Ming-erh (shop assistant), Chou Hung (Yuelou's mother), Chi Pingji (Yuelou's father).