17 May 2013 | eddychin
Highly recommended viewing for veteran Chinese film enthusiasts
5-Minute Review of Crazy Dinner Party
An entertaining comedy-of-errors revolving around a Spring Festival dinner at an exclusive, secluded Beijing supper club. With an excellent ensemble cast, the script has surprisingly biting social commentary for a film released during 2012's Chinese New Year season (a time censors would usually be expected to be particularly sensitive to any social commentary at all). The film more or less lambastes the Chinese nouveau riche, their frivolousness, and their superficiality, in addition to poking fun at some more amusing and/or unsavory elements of modern Chinese (pop) culture itself (particularly in the end credit sequences).
Rising comedian Huang Bo (Lost in Thailand) plays a tertiary but giddily entertaining role that cynically plays upon Huang's own star status, portraying a washed-up, insecure, self-absorbed kung-fu star seeking scholarly advice on how to rejuvenate his career.
Meanwhile, the rest of the relatively unknown cast does an amazing job playing their assigned roles to a tee, with the credit for the ensemble's delectable chemistry going to director Shang Jing, who despite meager film industry experience, has proved he can make competent, entertaining, and socially biting commercial fare. (Shang's previous experiences were limited to a TV period drama, a film adaptation of it, and a co-screen writing credit for Zhang Yimou's poorly received Coen Bros. remake, A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop.) Underused Hong Kong bombshell actress Monica Mok should also have hopefully gained some renewed attention after providing a smolderingly sexy yet self-deprecating, fruit-dicing, stunt action-filled portrayal of the one of the film's two conniving antagonists.
Special mention goes to the struggling restaurateur protagonist played by Liu Hua of microbudget sleeper hit Crazy Stone fame (which this film's title seems to reverentially play off of), whose dignified performance is punctuated by hilariously explosive episodes of emotional collapse.
Although fairly steeped in Chinese cultural references, caricatures, and saddled with a mediocre English subtitle translation, this flick is highly recommended viewing for Chinese film enthusiasts wishing to delve a bit deeper into Mainland productions beyond over-bloated costume epics and poorly-written romcom star vehicles.