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Film Review: The New King of Comedy (2019) 影評《新喜劇之王》- Extra's Chinese Dream

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Film Review: The New King of Comedy (2019) 影評《新喜劇之王》- Extra's Chinese Dream
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of THE NEW KING OF COMEDY (2019). ©Lian Rui (Shanghai) Film Industry Co., Ltd.

The comedy star Stephen Chow and the best genre film director of Hong Kong, Herman Yau, co-directed this black comedy about extras' straggles and lives in Mainland Chinese film industry. "Chinese Dream'' is concerned here in The New King of Comedy (2019). A part-time extra actress, Ru Meng (E Jingwen), has worked as an extra in Mainland China for ten years and she is now in her 30s. This reflects Jingwen's real age (1989-) in 2019. In other words, the directors intentionally synced Jingwen and Ru Meng. This feature is her first major leading role debut. The creators' realism is proved by the tight relationship and coincidence between the actress and the character. The Russian realist theatre actor Constantin Stanislavski (1863-1938) was cited in this film. And some of his words remind us of the filmmakers' conscious efforts at acting.

''The main factor in any form of creativeness is the life of a human spirit, that of the actor and his part, their joint feelings and subconscious creation.'' - Constantin Stanislavski

The creation of joint feelings and their subconscious creation are core values in this film. For example, Ru Meng is deceived by her boyfriend, He, who turns out to be a contract boyfriend, a kind of prostitution job in China. This moment of truth in the rainy street sequence is critically important in this film. After extra Ru Meng and her idol star Ma Ke (Wang Baoqiang)'s comical encounters and interactions during the shooting of various films, their relationship changes into the opposite. One is obsolete actor Ma Ke, and the other is new star Ru Meng. She gets the big opportunity in Stephen Chow's new film audition, and she recreates the moment of truth with joint feelings subconsciously. Yes, Jingwen herself in real life actually also participated in Stephen Chow's new film audition. As a result, the role and the actor's inner life are highly synchronised. This kind of attempt in a partially biographical film is unique and more creatively insightful than ordinary commercial stuff in Hong Kong. Besides these, the family relationship between Ru Meng and her father is something additional and typical among actors whose family background is not an art field. Like everybody's father who wants his son or daughter to have a decent job, he opposes the most unstable kind of job in the film/TV industry.

However, they always care about their son or daughters' working conditions, and when some big opportunity comes, then they eagerly and unexpectedly help their son or daughter to get the chance. This is a recommended movie and the best of 2019. However, they depict brutal and inhuman working conditions and violence among film workers as something funny and justifiable in individualist idealism. Bearing those kinds of inhuman conditions is compensated by becoming a star or not. It lacks the unionised workers' viewpoint against an inhuman and alienated working environment. Individual success cannot solve the environmental and social issues in general. Just turn yourself to the opposite side, and you will have to do the same to the worker's side. Film cannot solve any social problem, but this is actually funny and shows the momentum of the Mainland Chinese film industry. Thus, this film cannot be made in Hong Kong or parts of China where independent film industry does not exist or extras are free volunteers.


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Film Review: The New King of Comedy (2019) 影評《新喜劇之王》- Extra's Chinese Dream


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