In certain circles of movie-goers, the very mention of Jay Chou in a starring role is enough of a minus point. But so what if he’s Keanu Reeves’ biggest competitor when it comes to the “stony face”! In this superhero action-comedy flick directed by French auteur Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), he is effortlessly cool even as he plays the sidekick that gets to throw all the best kicks and punches—including a few at the hero himself.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES RELEASING INTERNATIONAL|
Seth Rogen (Superbad) plays Britt Reid, the party-loving son of Los Angeles’ most prominent media magnate, James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). He is shaken out of his directionless existence when his father suddenly passes away, leaving him his vast empire. Upon discovering that an ex-employee of his father, Kato (Jay Chou), is not just a gifted mechanic and barista but a deadly martial arts expert, he promptly re-hires him and gets him to pimp his father’s fleet of luxury cars into fighting machines even Batman might covet. Yearning to do something useful, they create the Green Hornet persona, a vigilante who poses as a criminal to bring down the city’s underworld. The only problem is, Britt is as effective a hero as he is at looking the part (which is to say, not at all) and their crime-fighting spree soon lands them in hot soup.
By taking on an irreverent approach to the whole superhero genre, the film veers away from tried and tested formulas to good effect—Gondry’s stylistic shooting aside, the hero/sidekick shtick between Britt and Kato is consistently entertaining, albeit at the expense of real suspense. If you like your action loud and quick and your humor straddling the grey area between dry and farcical, you won’t be disappointed.
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
Not Just A Sidekick
Jay Chou makes his Hollywood debut in the superhero-comedy The Green Hornet.
Batman and Robin, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Starfish—from time immemorial, the hero-sidekick relationship has been explored countless times, be it in literature or movies. The hero was the one who could do no wrong as he saved the day (and got the girl) while his trusty sidekick, more often than not, does not get much characterization at all. Not in The Green Hornet, though.
In town on Jan. 24 with stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou to promote the film, director Michel Gondry says, “I’ve had the opportunity to do a movie in this genre before, but they always had a slick attitude—the one guy saving the world—and I don’t identify with that guy. I like to have people portrayed on the screen that have flaws, a sense of humor, maybe a bit of a loser at times. That’s what’s appealing about this movie.”
He continues, “In The Green Hornet, you can see that even the sidekick has his own aspirations, his own ego.”
For Chou, the most difficult thing was making Kato a different character from that which Bruce Lee portrayed in the 1960s TV series of the same name, by bringing him closer to reality. For example, he fights over girls.
Describing the standout scene where Britt and Kato punch each other’s lights out, Rogen says while chuckling, “One of the challenges was that we had to make sure Kato wasn’t holding back when he was pummeling Britt. So I had all the low blows.” On the choice to cast Chou, Rogen, who is also the screenwriter and executive producer, said upon meeting the Asian superstar for the first time, “It was immediately clear that he was super cool,” says Rogen. “He’s really charismatic, he’s handsome, he has that cool hair. He’d never take orders from a guy like Britt Reid. That made him perfect for the part.”
~ Yong Yung Shin