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3D Lost in Wrestling: Filmart Review

3D Lost in Wrestling - H 2014
Hong Kong Filmart

The Bottom Line

Wow.

Director

Casey Chan

Director Casey Chan returns with a pan-Asian wrestling romp.

Nearly impossible to describe in a few words and unabashedly sweet, Hong Kong veteran Casey Chan jumps on the 3D/4K bandwagon with 3D Lost in Wrestling, a swift, sentimental sports drama that flirts with camp but is saved by its own good nature. Fight aficionados are going to be let down by the relative dearth of actual fighting in the film (the actresses that play the lady wrestlers are clearly more supermodel than athlete) but Lost is just odd enough to find a niche audience at specialty festivals if not general release, and could find a healthy life on DVD and download, particularly in Asia.

The pan-Asian story begins on the plains of Inner Mongolia, where star Mongolian wrestler Naren (Zhao Ke) shows off her prowess at a holiday match. Much of her skill came from sparring with childhood friend Chi-na-si, a local boy that later disappears to Japan, much to the chagrin of his grandmother, Granny Gold Moon (Sechengoo). Eventually Naren gets an invitation to a women’s tournament in Osaka, which she accepts, and she heads out with a promise to Gold Moon to look for Chi-na-si while she’s there. Meanwhile, former sumo wrestler (he dropped a lot of weight) and current foot reflexologist Ruonan (William Chan) travels to Hong Kong to apprentice with a knife sharpening guru, who has his own family problems, chiefly an estranged daughter, Moon-moon (Li Feier).

It’s as crazy as it sounds and that’s just half the story. 3D Lost in Wrestling is as goofy and lightly enjoyable a lark as is likely to come out of Hong Kong-Mongolia cooperation any time in the near future. Much of the story revolves around the age-old, and universal, notion that there’s something more virtuous and healthy about living in the country rather than the sinful urban milieu. The second narrative thread pivots on Naren’s search for Chi-na-si and her run-in with Boss, the Japanese fight promoter—a Clockwork Orange knock-off who may possibly be a magical imp—who decides what women’s sports really needs is blue mud wrestling. The two streams cross when Ruonan returns from Hong Kong and he and Naren go looking for Boss. The reasonably predictable reveal that Boss, Ruonan and Chi-na-si are the same person is one for the ages.

The obvious dubbing that’s a throwback to ’70s television (probably a marketing choice as well as a production hitch) gives Lost a kitschy retro feel that works for the featherweight material and the comic book tone. It suffers a few too many info-dumps (a lengthy explanation about multiple personalities is a prime example) to flow like a story should, but Chan (who does everything except star) is clearly committed. When it comes right down to it, what the ultimate message is remains a mystery. Is it that relocating to Osaka leads to madness? That you can go home again? Love conquers all? Most likely all of the above.

Lost’s use of 3D detracts from Ngor Chi Wan’s photography in general. The sequences set on the prairie are vivid with preternaturally green grass, bright blue sky and elaborate fabrics whose colors are muted by the requisite dark glasses. Whether or not the use of 3D translates into box office dollars is anyone’s guess, but given the warm market reception, the answer could be that it will.

Producer: Huang Si Qin, Bi Le Ge, Casey Chan

Director: Casey Chan

Cast: Zhao Ke, William Chan, Li Feier, Naoko Watanabe, Sechengoo, Zheng Pei Pei, Li Yixin, Alia, Lau Siu Ming, Liu Dan

Screenwriter: Jason Lam, Casey Chan

Executive Producer: Mu Ren, Kay Chan, Anna Kan, Casey Chan

Director of Photography: Ngor Chi Wan

Production Designer: Tomoyuki Maruo

Music: Jacques-Laurent Benech

Costume Designer: Jenn Chan

Editor: Pang Ching Hei, Poon Hung, Angel Sanchez-Covisa

International Sales: Gold Harbour International Films

No rating, 100 minutes