Saturday, 22 October 2011

Movie Review: Mural

Went to watch Mural with my mom and bro last saturday. Although it isn't the type of movie I would usually watch (my sort of genre being more of sci-fi, thriller, or action), it was still quite enjoyable.

Mural is directed by Hong Kong director Gordon Chan (陳嘉上) , who previously directed Painted Skin (畫皮). Mural's story comes from the sixth chapter of a book called Liao Zhai (聊斋), a collection of nearly five hundred (mostly) supernatural short stories written in the Qing Dynasty.

The story starts with scholar Zhu XiaoLian and his servant Hou Xia being accosted by swordsman Meng Longtan, who attempts to rob them. They all end up at a Taoist hillside temple where a monk named Budong calms them down. Zhu, intrigued by a painting of six beautiful women, finds one comes to life in front of his eyes, then disappearing into a doorway that previously wasn't there. The scholar, entranced, follows her through the tunnel that leads to the Land of Ten Thousand Blossoms, a beautiful place filled with fairy-like maidens, where males aren't allowed to trespass.

The environment and costumes are quite breathtaking, with Cyrus Ho's impressive sets, and Bobo Ng's filigree costuming. The attention to detail in the girls' clothing is apparent in the complex layering, though the hairstyles and glitter patterns on their arms are a little kitschy (and not in a good way).

The ensemble of actresses are fittingly beautiful, each according to the nature of their characters. The acting isn't too bad either, but the plot is quite contrived. The story goes off into tangents, with sub-plots that don't really add on to the story. Though a high-budget production, visual effects were a little lacking at times, reminiscent of old wuxia films (especially the part where the tortoise god ferries them on its back).

So while the visuals are mostly good, and the story sufficiently dramatic (essentially a tearjerker nearing the end of the movie), it falls short of being great. It feels like patchwork -- beautiful women, magical fireworks, cgi monsters, and lots of love triangles. It would probably be an epic if the effort was more focused on a single plot line, rather than that of multiple characters'.

All in all though, it's still quite an enjoyable movie, as long as you don't nitpick at the details and enjoy the eyecandy.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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