Saturday, January 28, 2012

Old FIsh (2007) Celebrating Chinese New Year!

Hailed by the few who saw it at the 2009 NYAFF as the best of the festival that year (every screening I attended had at least one person who saw the film who was trying to connect with one of the few few others who saw the film) this is best described as a true life CSI: China or more accurately CSI:OHMY since what you see on screen is the true story of a police bomb disposal crew in China.

Actually the story is that of the local bomb disposal expert who nearing retirement and how he stumbles upon the work of a serial bomber. The trouble is he really doesn't know what he's doing, as is abundantly clear at the start. What he does is defuse things through trial and error based on experience. The experience has been gained in the constant defusing of bombs and landmines left over from the Japanese Occupation some fifty years before.

Without a doubt this is one of the most amazing and decidedly unique films you're ever likely to see. To be certain the film takes your typical good buy vs bad guy story and turns it into something else entirely (we never really see any bad guy just the bombs). Its almost like taking a candy bar and whipping up a ten course meal out of it complete with soup and porterhouse steaks. You shouldn't be able to do what this film does but somehow it manges to do the impossible.

Based upon the actual work of a bomb squad and starring Ma Gaowei, a former bomb squad member this is the sort of film that seems too fantastical to be real, except that as you watch it, every bit of the film, every moment, every location and action feels real. Rarely has any film ever had such a great sense of place. You know that what we are seeing is real simply because you couldn't make up a location or an action such as what we see.

Whats annoying about this film is that it has no English release that I can find. None. While I do have a copy of the film on DVD there are no English subtitles. Which means I had to troll the Internet to find reviews, summaries and other material relating to the film so that I would have the fullest possible understanding of the film (short of seeing it with subtitles or learning Chinese). Yet again we have a case of some small gem of a film getting lost to the ages out side of it's country of origin simply because it hasn't been translated, or rather hasn't had a translation been made available.

Lets not put too fine a point on it subtitles or no this is one of the best films I've seen in 2011.

Find and see this film.

(FYI: Director Gao Shuqun also directed The Message which I reviewed back in May and Wind Blast which will be reviewed later today)

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