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Hollywood Adventures
Hungry Ghost Ritual

Tong Dawei, Huang Xiaoming and Vicki Zhao in Hollywood Adventures.
Chinese: 橫衝直撞荷里活
Year: 2015
Director: Timothy Kendall
Producer: Justin Lin, Vicki Zhao Wei, Anne Clements, Troy Craig Poon, John Pierson
Writer: Brice Beckham, David Fickas, Justin Lin, Alfredo Botello, Philip W. Chung

Huang Xiaoming, Vicki Zhao Wei, Tong Dawei, Sung Kang, Sarah Li, Rhys Coiro, Stephen Toblowski, Missi Pyle, Rick Fox, Simon Helberg, Robert Patrick, Tyrese Gibson, Kat Dennings

The Skinny: Imagine an action-comedy titled Hollywood Adventures that stars Vicki Zhao, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei, Sung Kang from the Fast and Furious movies and Rick Fox of the Los Angeles Lakers. Have a picture in your head? Okay, that’s exactly what this movie is like.
by Kozo:
Chinese film goes to Hollywood – literally – with the sometimes clever but mostly insipid co-production Hollywood Adventures, which arrives courtesy of director Timothy Kendall and producers Justin Lin (director of the Fast and Furious movies) and Vicki Zhao. You probably know that last person for her acting. Huang Xiaoming stars as Xiaoming, a luxury car salesman in China who heads to Hollywood to pursue his ex-girlfriend Yan Yan (Sarah Li). In true Planes, Trains and Automobiles style, Xiaoming gets seated next to curly-haired annoyance Dawei (Tong Dawei), who immediately begins talking his ear off. Dawei is a huge fan of movies, and frequently quotes famous movie lines. He’s also a super-fan of Kat Dennings (who appears in a cameo as herself) and has an origin story involving dead parents, a loyal butler and a thirst for justice. There’s a payoff to this obvious pop culture reference and it’s as predictable as the bad guys getting theirs and the hero getting the girl. This is a Hollywood (or Hollywood-like, anyway) film and it knows it.

Oh, the main girl isn’t Yan Yan – it’s actually Wei Wei (Vicki Zhao), the tour guide for “Hollywood Adventures”, the tour package that Dawei joins. Due to movie circumstances, Xiaoming falls in with the tour group, only for the whole thing to go pear-shaped when it turns out that Hollywood Adventures is a front for a smuggling ring masterminded by Korean-American bastard Manny Love (Sung Kang from the Fast and Furious movies). Wei Wei is an accessory to the crimes, but you know she’s really a sweetheart because she’s played by Vicki Zhao, and commercial movies, by their nature, must conform to audience expectations. Wei Wei absconds with a bagful of illegal powdered rhino horn (an aphrodisiac, yay) to spite Manny, while sparring with Xiaoming along the way. Duh, romance will blossom between Xiaoming and Wei Wei, the pair will unite to take on Manny, and Dawei will continue to add comic relief. If the film added a dog or an annoying little kid it might actually be less derivative.

Hollywood Adventures has a super-high-concept premise, and to the filmmakers’ credit they’re very aware of it. The script is sometimes amusingly meta, with Dawei likening events to movie clichés (“If this were a movie, this would happen next…”). Also, at every opportunity the characters mention parts that the film’s actors have played. Manny Love is said to resemble “Han from the Fast and Furious movies” while Robert Patrick, in a totally needless cameo, is likened to the T-1000 from Terminator 2. Hollywood Adventures actually contains a ton of Terminator references – more than any film should, considering mankind has made ten zillion other films. There’s some cleverness to Dawei’s constant spouting of movie clichés, since it gives the film a chance to either confirm or debunk them. Still, the use is excessive and not as self-aware as it should be – frequently the characters say, “This is reality,” in a straight-faced manner, when some winking or breaking of the fourth wall should have been in order. Smarter or wittier direction would have prevented this but, alas, you won’t get that in Hollywood Adventures.

Action in the film is standard for Hollywood fare, with perfunctory chases and PG-13 gunplay, plus the ending offers CGI-assisted slo-mo shots that are pure Fast and Furious – gee, I wonder why they did that? Screenwriting is average-to-worse; there’s fun wordplay and verbal zingers but also droning exposition, oversold irony and cheesy dialogue callbacks. The film gets bonus points for having Vicki Zhao say in English, “His Majesty’s asshole is sacred,” or having Dawei state that one thing he’s learned from the movies is “not to be caught with a dead white guy.” Also, somebody knocks out Rick Fox of the Los Angeles Lakers and that’s awesome. Acting is hard to quantify since everyone cruises along in, “Hey, we’re in a Hollywood movie!” mode. Nobody embarrasses themselves but Tong Dawei should get more credit since he’s the film’s Swiss Army Knife; not only does Tong provide comic relief, but he’s the action hero and also cross-dresses. Expectations for Hollywood Adventures are easy to discern from the poster, premise and cast. Extrapolate from there and you should know exactly what you’re getting. Whether or not you still see it – well, that’s on you. (Kozo, 3/2016)



DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Intercontinental Video (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
International Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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