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Movie: Saving Mr. Wu (2015)
Genre: ,
Director: Sheng Ding
Date of Release: 30 Sep 2015
Duration: 106
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Movie review score

About Saving Mr. Wu (2015)

Mr. Wu, a Hong Kong movie star, is kidnapped in Beijing by Zhang Hua's gang. The police quickly form a task force and begin the search, ignoring that detectives in charge have only twenty hours before the deadline. (A story based on the famous kidnapping case of television actor Wu Rufou that took place in 2004.)

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Ruthless, relentless and with hatred for the society, both are ready to do anything for money. Strong influence from Korea also polluted the self-respect and self-dignified of the younger generations in China, more young men looked more feminine and more look-alike the Korean young men, with forehead fully covered; young female actors(if we could tolerate their poor acting talent)look more and more like women in escort business. We won't speak for those familiar with the subject matter, but those with little knowledge of the ins and outs of the case will find this as engrossing an introduction as any, brought to vivid life by an assured directorial hand and outstanding performances from Andy Lau and Wang Qianyuan. There are loopholes in the plot from the beginning.

Coming off 'Police Story 2013', 'Saving Mr Wu' finds Ding Sheng at his creative best, fusing the instincts he had starting honing from his debut 'The Underdog Knight' with a fascinating real-life story to create a riveting crime thriller.

This has “Hollywood remake” all over it, and already I can imagine what Hollywood would have in store for a remake.

So, while I enjoyed the film, it was a bit flat. I think that it might be a lack of character development. Watching this movie once is an overall entertaining experience but it simply isn't memorable and I wouldn't recommend purchasing it.

As tempting as it may be to call this Andy Lau's show, he is surprisingly upstaged by Mainland actor Wang Qianyuan, who plays the kidnapper Zhang Hua. It never becomes confusing, though, which is a point in favor of the direction and the plot. Every female characters, heroines or supporting all looked like models, wearing expensive clothes, driving expensive imported foreign cars….. But the timeline and the plot are all right. Lau, who played the victim in the present film, even with good acting and a script tailored-made for him, actually overshadowed by the kidnapper. I never really got a feel for some of the characters and it kept me from investing much into what was going on. Impressively done.

Adopting a non-linear narrative may be slightly disorientating at the start, but Ding's choice not to simply follow chronology actually proves an inspired one to lend the story greater heft. The two empathize with each other to a certain degree and develop a certain type of code of honor, based upon honesty and respect. This isn't an unusual plot. Kudos to the producers of Saving Mr. Wu for making a taut thriller that stands on its own. It is harrowing to watch all right, and you can trust us when we say that there is no doubt watching it unfold that it was re-enacted for real. They rewrote the historical record and document, invented so many unorthodox and untrue incidents to praise and kiss the Party, changed the Chinese history to brain wash their younger generations, injected falsified and blind patriotism, national hatred to the Japanese and dislike of the totaled Nationalist Party.

The story of “Saving Mr. Wu” is simple enough. The framing does make for an interesting juxtaposition, such that Ruofu's physical predicament is mirrored against that of Zhang Hua's, who is strapped tightly into a chair with iron rails around his body and feet chained to the floor in the police's interrogation room. The plot is simple enough, but the movie keeps jumping back and forth in time, non-stop, to make things more interesting.

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Overall, I have to recommend this police drama. By acted and performed like that kind of criminal attitude, there was no way that he could become an Alpha dog but more like a typical American stand-up comedian with gifted and crafty wisecracking dialog. The use of apple as the main source /key for solving the case is a nice human touch to a very depressing and inhumanistic story and make the key message more in line with the Chinese official (i.e. criminal listen you rip what you sow) or the cause and effect Buddhist philosophy.

The actor-character transformation is even more remarkable considering how this is the first time that Wang is playing the villain, whose television personas are diametrically different from his role here. Andy Lau's Mr. Wu gets kidnapped by some criminals and the police will try to find him before the bad guys kills him. The way Ding structures his narrative also inevitably places the focus less on Lau than on Wang, which unfolds as a race against time to figure out where Ruofu is held before he is executed by Zhang Hua's henchmen. A criminal imprisoned for 10 years with teeth so clinically white was a terrible overlook by the actor and the production part. As Mr. Wu, he attempts to keep up his Star power persona to make him more claim. It's not an awful film but it's missing something.

With the case slowly reviewed, the evils of present-day 21st century China are also reviewed.

But the self-thought-to-be-correct and self-righteous directing and the editing had jeopardized this film to reach being a premium drama. The movie start sort of made peace with his kidnapper so that was good to see. And “Saving Mr. Wu” is rightly among the small 5% rare species. It isn't surprising therefore that the real-life story would become the subject of a movie in itself, one which writer-director Ding Sheng approaches with the utmost commitment to authenticity.

Yes, despite casting Andy Lau as Ruofu, Ding strips all vanity off the Hong Kong superstar by putting him in handcuffs and binding him up in heavy iron chains most of the time. It is Zhang who fills in both the police – and us – with what went down in the 18 hours Ruofu is taken, and from whose point of view the story develops. The formulaic but randomly linked and arranged time frames were like a drunken frog jumping around with no logical sequence. The kidnapping of prominent TV star Wu Ruofu outside a bar in Beijing's Sanlitun district may not have made much headlines here in Singapore, but it was big news back in the Mainland, not least because his kidnappers had identified themselves as police officers prior to snatching him but also because it raised alarm about how safe the capital was and led to a consequent boom in the private security business. The ending was quite poignant and kind of a redemption of sorts. In fact, we dare say it is probably one of the best Mainland films you'll see this year, one that by both theme and genre also makes for a welcome change of pace from the usual crop of romance or war epics that we are frankly just exhausted of. It was brilliantly done. The actor playing the villain did a great job playing the callus criminal.

On the other side, the movie fails to truly stand out and leave a mark despite the interesting characters. Lot of profiting Chinese on-line media companies also jumped on the money train to produce more and more superfluous and hollow films targeting the teenagers or low level TV viewers.

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This movie at large is good and serious, but the randomly edited and patched time sequence of the story line, scenarios and the plots suffered huge set back. If I were to pick the best thing about this it would have to be the villain. It's realistic (quite sadly) that someone dressed in police uniform can get away with much, and we see that here where a top notch movie star is kidnapped in such a manner. However, the movie lacks punch and grit, it goes for the safe, and lacks something to make it stand from the pack. Pointless wedding scenes became the main course, love scenes, lovers' quarrels or misunderstanding scenes became the main scenarios and the plots.

The most interesting element about the movie are the conversations between Wu, the victim, and Zhang, the leader of the kidnappers. Glad I checked it out. In order to survive and give another kidnapped man some hope, Wu uses his wits to get to know more about his kidnappers, put himself in their shoes and find a way out. It is easy to watch, and entertaining enough, but the story could have offered way much more. Indeed, while Ruofu's kidnap was more spontaneous than premeditated, what isn't coincidental is his kidnapper's felonious behavior, and Ding goes even further back than the night of Ruofu's kidnapping to shed light on just who both Ruofu and the police are up against. Those familiar with the case itself will know that Zhang Hua was no less than the mastermind of Ruofu's kidnap, and it was he who had rounded up a crew in search of their latest victim barely two weeks after he had similarly held the younger brother of a gang boss for ransom and assassinated the former after collecting the money. And these above-mentioned stuff have become the total ingredients of the Chinese movie and TV industries. More and more scenes of passenger airplanes taking off or landing, so the airport terminal departure and arrival scenes also became part of these movies. It tells the story of a movie star named Wu who gets kidnapped by criminals pretending to be police officers. Wang more than holds his own with Lau, especially at the start where both are testing each other's limits while trying to achieve their own objectives – one to stay alive, and the other to keep the former alive just long enough to get his demands. Everything that happens is pretty easy to follow and the tension is kept almost thorough the movie. The bandits are brilliant, the others are ordinary. How much of a resemblance to the actual criminal of the same name is anybody's guess, but Wang is mesmerising to watch as the cold- blooded criminal who had run rings around the detectives in charge of the case and who displays no sign of compunction up till the very end. The story is too predictable though and the filmmaking sometimes tedious.

Though Ruofu's kidnapping right after he leaves a nightclub at the end of a business meeting with a potential film investor kicks off the movie, Ding uses Zhang Hua's questioning by lead investigators Xing Feng (Liu Ye) and Cao Gang (Wu Ruofu) as a frame to fill in the events that follow immediately after Ruofu is taken. Combining a keen cunning demeanour with disarming charm, Wang keeps his audience on edge guessing just what his unpredictable and increasingly unhinged character has up his sleeves. The guy who they got to play the leader of the kidnappers really took over the screen. Saving Mr Wu is worth watching and if there's a DVD actor's or director's commentary then that would be worth listening to for sure.

Luckily, Andy Lau and those guys who played the police force have not been ruined by the partly unconvincing formula, they were serious, and Andy Lau was more serious in his sincere and complete believable performance as the victim of the kidnap case. They completely misunderstood the definitions of “Comedy”, they thought by throwing in all the ridiculous scenarios and plots, by allowing the actors doing the stupid exaggerated acting were the indispensable and must-have in their so-called “Comedy”. Shooting locations must be either Italy or France with lot of unrealistic story lines portrayed Chinese young men, especially young women living abroad. If you have watched Saving Mr. Wu, you can read or write the film review on Saving Mr. Wu on IMDB. And let us know whether you liked the film or not at the comment section below..

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