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THE GREAT MAGICIAN (2011)

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THE GREAT MAGICIAN (2011)

Friday, 04 October 2013 12:00

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Written by 

The Buzz:

         In post Revolutionary China, a mysterious magician returns from abroad, and is wrapped up in a scheme to overthrow the local Warlord. But he also has to win back his old love, the Warlord's 7th wife. And the Warlord's closest advisor may not have his best interests at heart. And the Japanese are involved and evil somehow. And there's magic shows. And kung-fu fighting. And WHAT THE HELL FILM, ENOUGH ALREADY!

 

 Life of the Party:

         Let me follow that statement by saying that The Great Magician is a pretty fantastic film. Despite the story being somewhat convoluted and confusing (though something tells me this may yet again have something to do with editing for foreign release), there's something really enjoyable about this movie.

         Now some of you may know that I am hardly an expert of even American actors, much less foreign ones, so I can't really comment on how they perform in The Great Magician compared to their other works. What I can say is that they certainly do a great job of that particular style of Chinese cinema that we know so well. Everything is played out much like it might be on a theater stage, with obvious character roles, really emotional expressions, the characters whose sole purpose is comical relief. It's got action, mystery, kung-fu, magic shows, romance, comedy, and just about everything in between. It's almost like a Chinese cinema piece trying to emulate Bollywood trying to emulate Chinese cinema, which in the case of this film works perfectly (yes there's even some song and dance)!

And now for my next trick, which I call "Russian Roulette"

Potential Hangovers:

         The movie is not without flaws however. For one, the Netflix descriptor is not AT ALL accurate to the film, so just ignore it. I won't go into detail, but if you go into this film expecting what Netflix tells you it's about you will be sorely disappointed (as I almost was).

         Also the Chinese have apparently yet to master real high-quality CGI effects, since The Great Magician has some pretty bad animations speckled throughout. Which in the case of some of the magic sequences is really disappointing. China has a long, respected history of street magic and magic performances, which to me would have made a far superior method for this film. I wish they had used some real Chinese street magic and performers for the film to make things that much more interesting; instead many of the big “tricks” rely on CGI or camera-play to pull it off, which was kind of a let-down.

         Also like I mentioned before the story gets pretty convoluted pretty damn fast. I'm sure some of it has to do with foreign exportation (much like what happened with Night Watch), but the primary storyline manages to stay intact (barely) enough for the viewer to quickly figure out what's going on.

         And it must be said: subtitles. I largely don't mind them, but if you're looking for a film to watch during a night of heavy drinking/partying, then this aspect can detract from the experience.

 


The Vibe: Casual Gathering, Solo Experience

         Whether you're taking a quiet night in alone on the couch, or gathering friends for a movie night, The Great Magician will serve you well. Keep the groups small and focused, however, since the convoluted storyline and subtitles won't forgive groups who want to to talk and joke without looking at the screen more than watch the film. Fans of Chinese cinema (and in a strange way, Bollywood) will really enjoy this movie, and anyone who enjoys a decent drama piece involving magic, guns, traitors, double-traitors, Japanese evil business men, song, dance, tanks, and jesus this film packs a lot.

 

Drinking Game Ideas:

~ Drink every time someone mentions “magic” or “tricks”

~ Drink every time someone does a magic trick

~ Drink every time someone refers to Yin as the “seventh wife” instead of by name

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Really evident of what good Chinese cinema can do

+ Really fun to watch (even despite the 2+ hour runtime)

- Convoluted storyline

Read 1176 times Last modified on Friday, 04 October 2013 15:36

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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