Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review - I

Disclaimer: I find it really difficult to review a movie in a foreign language without blurring the lines between a critique of the film and the critique of an entire culture. I thus need to make clear that this post is an attempt by an ignorant Chinese boy in trying make sense of an Indian Tamil movie. I run the risk of being culturally insensitive, and i apologise in advance and am open to correction.

The name of the show is I, and while I as a letter is supposed to stand for a lot of words that appear throughout the movie, to me, I is Intense.

I've seen some mind-blowing movies, some even bordering ridiculousness, but this film goes so far down the rabbit-hole that it becomes something else altogether, and that something is a visual spectacle.

Take for example one of their musical numbers in the middle of the movie that contributes nothing to the movie's plot. They constructed this entire, very elaborate set with amazing costumes and flying wire-work just for a short few minutes of music. On its own it is already an epic music video.

No wonder this movie was among the costliest Indian films of all time.

(Yes I know this is in Hindi, not Tamil, but i could not find the Tamil equivalent of this video. The tune is the same though.)

This movie is loosely about a wronged protagonist seeking vengeance on his enemies. I say loosely because other than covering the plot, this three hour epic seemed to have left nothing out in its making. I can't imagine anything that this movie did not manage to cover:
  • Beauty and the beast scene with flying caucasian angels? Check.
  • Chinese triad members on BMX bikes having a kung fu standoff with an Indian hero in the middle of rural China? Why not.
  • Nokia phones transforming into girls? How about motorcycles transforming into girls? Maybe dumbbells and fish also while you are at it? Check.
  • A fight scene at the dressing room of the Mr Tamil Nadu body-building competition involving about a hundred oily, muscular guys in nothing but trunks fighting with the hero using dumb bells? Oh goodness why.

There are 3 lessons I learnt from this movie:
  1. Product placement is most effectively done when the movie is about a model who does endorsements. I don't think I've ever seen so many products advertised not-so-subtly in a movie before.
  2. The standards of female beauty in India seem to have reached a level of fairness that Indian actresses can no longer attain. Yes, that leading lady in the video above is a real-life English beauty queen acting as an Indian supermodel.
  3. Karma. It is perfectly okay to set your enemies alight, unleash bees on them, poison their beauty products so they grow hair all over, electrocute them until their skin burns off, sever their arm, and inject them with a virus causing elephantiasis... as long as they are evil. Cuz evil people have it coming right?
I am honestly a bit disturbed by that last idea, even though it was played for laughs, because the flip side of karma is victim blaming; If bad things happen to someone, this person must have done something evil before.

I can't summarise this show but I felt real life was very mundane after seeing something as grandiose as this.

Bechdel Test: Failed - Three hours with only one girl in this whole film. Oh wait there's her mom too and they were talking about... oh... arranged marriages.

No. of films seen this year with:
     White man saving the world - 1
     Non-white/male protagonist - 2

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