Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Green Hornet

Year: 2011
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos

The 1960s TV series The Green Hornet is known to be the show that launched Bruce Lee's Hollywood career. Like most TV shows these days, it gets made into a film, and here it is.

Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid, son of newspaper owner James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). Britt is a playboy who enjoys partying and isn't like his dad at all. Then one day, his dad dies and Britt inherits the paper.

At first, Britt doesn't quite know what to do, that is until he meets Kato (Jay Chou), a mechanic that works for his father. Together they discover that they both dislike his old man for the same reasons and decide to do something about it. In the process of doing so, Britt learns that Kato is an expert in martial arts, and with his help, they successfully rescue a couple from being mugged.

Britt then comes up with an idea: he and Kato will put on costumes and pretend to be bad guys as they fight crime and run from the cops at the same time. Using the newspaper to spread the word on their activities, Britt dubs himself The Green Hornet and takes Kato all over town causing havoc amongst the gangs. This attracts the attention of Chudnovsky (Christoph Waltz), the Russian crime lord who is determined to take control of the city's crime empire.

The first thing you'll notice about this film is director Michel Gondry's visual style. He loves retro and it shows here. The closing credits is an homage to retroness and the old TV show. It's a refreshing change from people who have come to expect superheroes in tights. In The Green Hornet, our heroes wear suits and hats even if this isn't 1960. Gondry as well as producers Rogen and Evan Goldberg also chose to make this an action comedy instead of an all out serious superhero flick, which sort of works, but since it's Seth Rogen we're talking about, it's only fitting.

Rogen plays to his strengths here as a comedian, utilising his comic timing to good effect. However it's Jay Chou that steals the show as Kato. His English isn't all that good, but he manages to bring a certain charisma to the role. He also excels in the fight scenes, though I wished Gondry didn't use CGI to either speed up or slow down his moves as it became a tad cartoonish after a while.

Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds fame hams it up as the villain, and he's even more ridiculous than Col Hans Landa. But he is funny here, I'll give him that. I did not like Cameron Diaz being cast as Britt's assistant Lenore Case though. Diaz is just playing her usual self here. Someone with a little less popularity than her would have been more suitable.

Overall the plot isn't great and some parts lack continuity. However Gondry almost makes up for it by staging an absolutely insane action sequence in the last 15 minutes of the film. I didn't expect that from Gondry, which is nice.

To sum it up, The Green Hornet is like popcorn. It's fun to digest, but you won't remember it later. (3.5/5)

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