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10 Seriously Funny Recent Chinese Movies

Updated on January 22, 2015

The Chinese film industry is known for churning out straightforward comedies that are so funny, they transcend culture barriers and prove to be a hit overseas. With director Wong Jing and actor Stephen Chow leading the pack. However, these past few years they have also churned out high quality movies that tackle serious subject matters while still retaining humor. Here are some examples you need to check out:

10: Da Wan - Big Shot’s Funeral

Synopsis

Da Wan stars Hollywood veteran Donald Sutherland as world-renowned American director Rob Tyler, who is shooting a remake of The Last Emperor in the Forbidden City at Beijing. His assistant Lucy hires cameraman YoYo to shoot a documentary for Tyler’s remake, but Tyler is fired from the production when he is found out to have serious health problems. Tyler tells expresses the desire to have a “comedy funeral” before falling into a coma. YoYo is then tasked with planning Tyler’s funeral, and has decided to turn it into a commercial event with sponsorships.

The Serious

Da Wan is not necessarily black comedy, but it does tackle a very serious topic – mortality and the rampant consumerism that has taken its hold on the movie industry. The premise is silly enough to warrant the comedy tag but never forget that it means someone has died.

The Funny

You won’t find any slapstick humor in the film, but it has situational comedy and funny dialogue that works in both English and Chinese. Additionally, Ge You does a sterling job as the deadpan, naïve YoYo.

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9 – Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat!

Synopsis

Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat! is an inspirational drama comedy that focuses on the Malaysian-Chinese Ah Haut, who prefers to live his life under the motto of “being honest.” Coupled with his inherent naiveté, his principle to treat everyone with utmost kindness and sincerity leads to all sorts of trouble as he is either taken advantage of or put in uncomfortable situations.

The Serious

There’s slapstick galore in this film and Ah Huat is frequently the subject of physical harm for humor’s sake, but don’t forget that this is billed as drama comedy – the film also delves into serious matters like death in the family, betrayal of trust, and leaving friendships behind in favor of success.

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The Funny

On the other hand, Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat! is still primarily comedy. Everything from the visuals to the script encourages you to walk away from this film inspired and laughing.


8 – Legend of the Swordsman

Synopsis

Not to be confused with the 1992 Jet Li-starrer, Legend of the Swordsman is an unrelated 2010 film that is also inspired by Jin Yong’s wuxia novels, but dials up the comedy. In Legend of the Swordsman, a village that is constantly being raided by bandits sent teacher Fan Jian on a mission to hire swordsmen that will protect the village. Unfortunately, the limited funds meant that he was only able to afford the braggart Begga Su and two other unreliable blademasters.

The Serious

The Legend of the Swordsman is (very) loosely based on The Legend of the Condor Heroes (particularly Hong Qigong, the Beggar King’s story), so it does have some serious themes running under the current. Martial arts is also present, though not on the same level as Jet Li’s 1992 film.

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The Funny

Comedy-wise, the film doesn’t disappoint. It harkens back to that magical time in the mid-90s when Hong Kong’s film industry made up for lack of special effects budget with stars that have excellent comedic timing. It’s not surprising because one of the Legend of the Swordsman’s leads – Law Kar Ying, was a mainstay of said era.


7 - Mr. & Mrs. Incredible

Synopsis

If the title isn’t a dead giveaway, Mr. & Mrs. Incredible is inspired by Pixar’s the Incredibles, as it follows a similar yarn: a husband and wife superhero team has retired to live a quiet life only to be disturbed by the appearance of a powerful villain. The clever twist is that the setting is pushed back to ancient china and instead of spandex-clad superheroes, the two heroes Gazer Warrior and Aroma Warrior are legendary martial artists.

The Serious

In terms of action, Mr. & Mrs. Incredible delivers. The two lead actors Sandra Ng and Louis Koo are not martial artists, but they do a good job with the fight scenes, thanks to CG effects that doesn’t look out of place.

The Funny

The film itself is excellent, poking fun at various Hollywood clichés (including several from the Dark Knight series.) This is one Chinese action-comedy film to watch if you enjoyed the recent crop of blockbusters from Steven chow.

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6 - Lost in Thailand

Synopsis

Lost in Thailand focuses on two businessmen who go on a search for their boss in Thailand, in order to get authorization for a miraculous new product that can double the volume of any liquid it is applied to (a goldmine when applied to important liquids like gasoline.) The only problem is that they disagree on which company to sell the product to. Further complicating matters is the appearance of a tourist who gets enmeshed in their conflicts.

The Serious

Lost in Thailand is straight up comedy, and two of the main characters are portrayed as irredeemable savvy businessmen at first, but as the story progresses, you get introduced to who the characters really are outside of their need to succeed financially. There’s a particularly poignant twist towards the end that reveals the tourist’s true background.

The Funny

Comedy-wise, Lost in Thailand has everything – slapstick, wordplay, situational. And it never goes overboard on either side. There’s betrayal of trust, subterfuge, and even a fight with a muay thai master but the film still manages to end on a happy note for all sides involved.

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5 - My Ex-Wife's Wedding

Synopsis

My Ex-Wife's Wedding tells the story of the owner of a wedding event planning company, whose relationship is being constantly interrupted by his ex-wife, who keeps dropping in on him and his new girlfriend. In order to get the ex-wife out of his hair, he arranges for his best friend to start dating his ex-wife, on the hopes that should they fall for each other, his ex wife will finally leave him alone. His plan works and his ex-wife and best friend hire his company for their wedding. Unfortunately, our protagonist realizes that he still loves his ex-wife.

The Serious

My Ex-Wife's Wedding’s is definitely not for young impressionable minds, as it navigates the labyrinthine complexities of failed marriages, dating, sex, and past regrets. It is still rom-com so there’s nothing too dark about it – everything is wrapped around neat and tidy using situational comedy and a clever script.

The Funny

As for its humorous elements, it is rom-com at its finest. Wrong timings, awkward situations, passive aggressive banter, every rom-com trick in the book is thrown in the mix and you have something that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time, without going overboard with cheap slapstick.


4 – Already Famous

Synopsis

Already Famous is directed and starred by Michelle Chong, which focuses on a small-town Malaysian girl who dreams of becoming a big star in Singapore. A shy coffeeshop assistant befriends her and encourages her to go after her dreams, leading her to migrate to Singapore and try her luck at getting into show business. Of course, things aren’t so simple getting from point A to B.

The Serious

Already Famous is essentially a lighthearted inspirational comedy, but it does shine a spotlight on a very serious matter: that of xenophobia. Michelle Chong’s character has a hard time even being accepted for auditions in Singapore because she’s Malaysian, with the studios preferring local talent. The topic is handled well, as it is not shoved in the viewer’s face and only used to push the plot forward.

The Funny

In terms of humor, Michelle Chong got her start in independent comedy, so the film is the perfect vehicle for her talent, mostly because it feels like a loose take on her own experiences.


3 – Breakup Buddies

Synopsis

Breakup Buddies is a romantic comedy with elements of a road film, focusing on a man who is still reeling from the effects of a divorce, deciding to go on a road trip with his best friend. Along the way, they meet all sorts of characters and get into different situations

The Serious

Breakup Buddies uses buddy comedy to highlight the kind of self-destructive tendencies that develops in people who have just suffered from a messy divorce. The film features scenes of implied sex, violence, drugs, and gambling as the two protagonists use the need to break free as an excuse to commit wanton acts of self destruction.

The Funny

Still, Breakup Buddies is still a comedy and it does deliver the laughs. It is unfair that the film is being compared to The Hangover, but when it comes to comedic elements and the setup, it is perfectly valid. Breakup Buddies delivers the laugh and it is an effective comedy film even if it’s not the most original.


2 – Crazy Racer

Synopsis

Known overseas as “Silver Medalist,” Crazy Racer is an action comedy film that that tells the story of a roster of individuals, consisting of express delivery men, traffic cops, gangsters, and lonely women, as their misfortunes and lack of mores lead them on a straight on collision with each other.

The Serious

Crazy Racer brings to mind Pulp Fiction, in that it delves into the seedy underworld of organized crime but does it with tongue firmly in cheek. Everything from being wrongly accused of murder, to drug smuggling, to straight-up murder, and even bicycle racing is treated as pieces of a puzzle that all come together perfectly before the credits roll.

The Funny

The humor in the film is VERY funny especially if you are familiar with the different dialects spoken by Chinese people, as their facial expressions and nuances sometimes hint at something else underneath and adds a biting punchline to an already funny joke. Still, even foreigners will appreciate the silliness and the way even bad people can be well-meaning, but end up doing worse because they use the wrong method.


1 – Cow

Synopsis

Cow is a black comedy that follows a villager during the second sino-japanese war, as he tries to protect a dutch cow from the Japanese invaders, as the cow is the source of milk for wounded soldiers.

The Serious

As mentioned above, Cow is set during the second Sino-Japanese War, and it doesn’t try to mask that part of the film. The scenes that depict the effects of an invasion on a village is not sugarcoated, the film is bloody, gritty, and in some places bleak as the protagonist tries to protect the cow from the Japanese and fellow survivors alike.

The Funny

Still, Cow is definitely comedy. The film manages to set the background for the story fairly well, with the protagonist being portrayed as the village idiot, leading to all sorts of comedic situations as his naiveté and ineptitude contribute to making bad things worse. Even when things turned pear shaped, the developing friendship between the cow and the protagonist allows for nuanced humor to shine through.


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