Mr. and Mrs. Incredible
aka San kei hap lui aka 神奇俠侶
Directed by Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
Written by Steven Fung Min-Hang, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, and Chan Po-Chun
I’ll be blunt – Mr. and Mrs. Incredible is the best film I’ve seen out of Hong Kong in 2011 so far. That’s either great praise for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, or a scathing indictment of this year’s crop of movies. It’s both, actually! Mr. and Mrs. Incredible is less of an action fest superhero movie, and more of a film about couples and conflicts that arise in a relationship that just happens to be between two superbeings. And it’s pretty damn good. A costumed period piece that takes queues from The Incredibles and several other super hero in real world pictures, we join Gazer Warrior and Aroma Warrior ten years into retirement as Flint and Rouge, living out their lives in a peaceful village in the middle of nowhere. But fate has decreed that the two superheroes will once again don their uniforms.
The real world super hero subgenre has grown significantly as of late, with storytellers finding the same thing Marvel did in the 1960s, that it is much more interesting to have actual people be the super heroes vs. mythological perfect beings with no problems ever. Movies like Watchmen, Super, and Defendor show real people with real problems donning capes and punching people. Now, the leads of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible don’t have deep psychological problems, emotional abuse issues, anger management problems, delusions, or revenge fantasies brought about by murdered parents. Their problems are much the same as most real couples. Part of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible‘s strength is that it sounds like familiar arguments even as it is surrounded by super hero antics and wacky comedy.
The comic book inspired flash opening credits are done nicely and set the fantasy tone for the film. All throughout there are editing and stylization choices that serve to enhance the fun, from platforming video game references as the super heroes run along rooftops to the silent movie music and text cards as the couple courts at a local fair.
The couple is now retired, Flint the head of security for the village they settled in, Rouge running a restaurant. Flint is having eyesight problems as he ages, and Rouge having to deal with gossiping townswomen who seem to think Flint will have wandering eyes and hands. But as the couple packs to move to a cottage by the lake, they come across their old costumes and reminiscence…
Gazer Warrior is modeled after Batman, even adopting a deep, growling voice (which is lampooned), and even has a batsymbolish device on a floating lantern. We first see him in action taking out the Pest Four – Evil Ant, Poisonous Snake, Devil Scorpion, Deadly Toad – bank robbers who adopt the martial arts styles of their namesakes, ridiculous as some of them are. Aroma Warrior is a defender of women, protecting a woman and baby from her abusive husband. Fans of both heroes argue over which hero reigns supreme, but the heroes are in love. We get a neat courtship sequence (as mentioned above) and return to present day.
Their tiny town is chosen as the location of a martial arts contest to determine ranking of the various schools. But this brings trouble in more ways than one. The most obvious is trouble to the marriage, as a young lass named Phoenix Bleu takes a shine to Flint, as he reminds her of her hero, Gazer Warrior. This sends Rouge into a jealous tizzy through most of the second act. Flint has his hands full trying to keep the tournament members from fighting in the streets and remembering to pretend to be hurt by their kung fu so his secret superpowers aren’t discovered. The school grandmasters squabble amognst themselves, though they can’t participate in the tournament (only their students.) Phoenix Bleu is pursued by a spoiled rich kid named King Kong (He Yunwei from Adventure of the King) and Flint finds himself stuck into giving meeting girls advice.
The second danger brought by the tournament is more sinister, event organizer Grandmaster Blanc is up to no good, out to steal the power of the other grandmasters for himself. So it looks like our heroes will have to patch up their marriage and then suit up so Gazer Warrior and Aroma Warrior can have one last battle.
Mr. and Mrs. Incredible was a delightful tale that was a nice surprise, film having more of a heart than I expected and showing that Hong Kong can still produce some surprising winners, even if they don’t win for the reasons you think they would when you first hear about them. I don’t think I would have liked Mr. and Mrs. Incredible as much had I still been single, but the fact I’m at about the same point in life as the characters makes the film fit more to my likes. But coming from a year where even the Alls Well, Ends Well film was weak and the biggest box office hit will be Sex and Zen 3D (sigh…), don’t discount Hong Kong just yet.
Rated 9/10 (It’s gaze-time!, kite news, roach palm, realitor/doctor, Hitler???, carnival prize, old school movies, fly, explode-a-thon)
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