Film Review: Plastic City

BOTTOM LINE: Unique setting doesn't help a tame crime story that turns into a silly fantasy.

Pusan International Film Festival
A Window on Asian Cinema

More Pusan 2008 reviews

Yu Lik Wai's overblown crime story "Plastic City" tells of an aging Chinese godfather to a crime syndicate in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with a mystical connection to the Amazon jungle. It's like watching Don Corleone morph into Col. Kurtz.

Part conventional mob yarn and part comic book fantasy, the film's setting among the ex-patriot community of Sao Paolo, said to be the biggest in the world, is fascinating initially, but the Chinese director's indulgence in wild fantasy becomes absurd. Prospects beyond cult festivals appear dim.

Anthony Wong plays Yuda, the crime boss who's looking for a way out so that his adopted son Kirin (Jo Odagiri) can take over. There are the usual complications and run-ins with rival hoodlums, resentful cohorts and crooked cops and politicians.

Yuda has a beautiful mistress, Ocho (Huang Yi), and a good life, but he pines for the rainforest. Kirin is a resourceful and dangerous criminal with a gorgeous stripper girlfriend, Rita (Taina Muller), who wants him to leave his life of crime and go away with her.

Instead, a gang war breaks out, and both Yuda and Kirin do spells behind bars before a plan of revenge is worked out. For this, the director turns to comic book action with lots of hacked limbs and gore.

The story becomes interminable with Yuda in and out of jail and Kirin forced underground until they both end up facing assorted fears and demons deep inside the jungle. It's bound not to end well, and Kirin should really have left with Rita.

Cast: Jo Odagiri, Anthony Wong, Huang Yi, Taina Muller.
Director: Yu Lik Wai.
Screenwriters: Yu Lik Wai, Fernando Bonassi.
Producers: Fabiano Gullane, Caio Gullane, Chow Keung, Jia Zhang-ke, Yuji Sadai, Siuming Tsui, Debora Ivanov, Gabriel Lacerda.
Executive producers: Tom Cheung, Rui Pires, Sonia Hamburger.
Director of photography: Lai Yiu Fai.
Production designer: Cassio Amarante.
Music: Fernando Corona, Yoshihiro Hanno.
Costume designer: Cristina Camargo.
Editors: Wenders Li, Andre Finotti.
Sales agent: Celluloid Dreams.
No rating, 118 minutes.
Production: Gullane, Xstream Pictures.
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