Wednesday, March 30, 2011

“THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF and THE SWORDSMAN” 《刀見笑》Movie Review. It’s One Big Bloody Mumbo-Jumbo Mayhem.


Preambling on “THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN” is like conjuring a vessel …..

and then charting it into the high seas without a proper navigation.

Catch the drift?

We’re hopelessly clueless about the direction in which it is heading.

One hell of a mumbo-jumbo experience, eh?

Kindly roll out the plot, director.

We are agape with wonder that a mystical blade (iron cleaver actually) with such amazing allure can find itself in the hands of three unlikely wacky men whose “passing through encounters” are told in three separate installments, all intertwined to complete a whole.

We should name the series of three “Desire”, “Vengeance” and “Greed”.

Take note that this magical cleaver possesses the ability to alter the fate of each of its owners. No explanations though.

The Butcher (Liu Xiaoye) is a ugly simpleton who’s besotted with a beautiful courtesan.

Naturally he is spurned.

The Chef (Masanobu Ando) may be a good looking lonely mute, but deep inside, he is obsessed with wreaking vengeance on the killers who had plundered his entire family.

The Swordsman (Swanson Han) is the son of a legendary warrior.

He selfishly aims to defeat his father and claim both power and fame.

As each man takes possession of the mystical cleaver at his particular time, that piece of story unravels.

Each discovers that the sword has a double edge, a frightening power that brings with it a great sense of doom.

An otherwise ambitious parable marred by a wayward execution.

Now, let’s tarry a bit.

The film director is Wuershan, a Mongolian born director from a rich advertising background.

He eats, breathes and creates art.

“A good film should be all-rounded, with a good mix and match.” – Wuershan.

“THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN” is his latent piece of art.

He was an ex- TVC veteran imploring us to sit through his debut art-house feature.

He assails us with a generous plethora of dreamlike visuals to startle the eyes and bedazzle the mind, all in a continuous stream.

It’s art-house and art-house flicks offer no explanations.

We have a full contortion of traditional Chinese opera, black-and-white primitive animation, hip-hop music videos, video games and more.

In true MALAYSIAN and SINGAPORE sense, this is what we term creative “rojak”.

You name it and it’s all here in this atrocious gas-bag potpourri mix,

courtesy of the film-director’s foray into his baffling self-indulging art of entertainment.

More fluff than buff?


It’s more like an elongated television commercial.

What’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, mind you.

“The BUTCHER, the CHEF and the SWORDSMAN” is clearly a fine example of a “too-much-of-a-good thing” may not bring forth the required results.

The script is hackneyed and the editing a tad confusing, to say the least.

In the capable hands of a competent commercial story telling director, things could have fared better.

Alas, this is not meant to be so.

What we are left are the undesirable remnants of a weird film that tries to be everything

and ends up being nothing.


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