Lost in Thailand, despite being relatively unknown outside of the mainland, was actually the second highest grossing movie of all time in China at the time of its release. It’s easy to see why – Lost in Thailand is a fast-paced, hilarious and exhilarating adventure through the lens of Chinese cinema.
The film is about Xu (Xu Zheng) who invents a chemical solution which enables any liquid to increase when applied. However, to further fund it, he needs to find the investor Mr. Zhou. When realizing Mr. Zhou is in Thailand, Xu embarks on a trip to the kingdom, tailed by his former classmate Gao Bo (Huang Bo), who wants to sell it to the French instead. Upon landing in Thailand, Xu meets Wang “Baobao” Bao (Wang Baoqiang). Xu and Wang then go on wacky adventures in Thailand while being unknowingly pursued by Gao.
From the minute Wang is introduced, the film’s tone shifts to full-on comedy. Wang’s constant peculiar elements, a weird blonde wig and a cactus he carries around for good luck, are displayed through plenty of the film’s moments of broad, accessible humor. The film at times seems to carry the heart of the classic American buddy-comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in the sense of both films being about two strangers becoming unlikely friends in the oddest of places. The performances of the actors are also well done, with plenty of the humor working through their excellent comedic timing and inflections. A notable highlight is the chemistry of the two leads – Xu is portrayed as a likable straight man thrust into wacky events, while Baobao is a perfect foil, acting as the madness to Xu’s sanity.
As expected through its 105-minute run-time, Lost in Thailand, being a comedy, runs the risk of being too long for its own good. However, the film boasts an infectious and happy energy. The film’s humor is predictable at times (and loads of slapstick), but the rapid-fire jokes still land. While stereotypes of the country, such as Muay Thai, Spas, and even transgenders, are made fun of and inserted into the film’s humor, they are made one-dimensional and tasteful to avoid offending anyone. The film allegedly pushes the envelope in regards to raunchy humor in the mainland, with a particular highlight involving two of the characters sneaking around Thai hotel rooms during a chase scene. Though the film admittedly teeters off the seesaw of plot focus at times (at one point it seems to be just vignettes of comedy), it’s still a good time.
Not only worth noting for its jokes, the film’s cinematography is visually unique. The sights of Thailand are shown as beautiful backdrops, with its scenes appropriately playing with the editing. Some comedic shots are fast-forwarded for effect, while one scene involving an out of control truck crashing through a market utilizes several quick-cuts to maintain the film’s kinetic pace and to compliment the film’s comedic vibe.
Lead star Xu Zheng not only co-wrote the film; Lost in Thailand also serves as his directorial debut, and the fact that the film works so well is no small feat. Overall, Lost in Thailand is not an excellent film that will win awards everywhere, nor will it be a film that would change your perception of life. However, as a light comedy, it highly excels and works in almost every single way. Lost in Thailand is a visually arresting yet fast-paced comedy that moves at a breakneck speed with success along the way. This is a trip to Thailand definitely worth taking for the bellyful of laughs.
Written by Joshua Chan
Lost in Thailand is one of several films that is currently shown in the 10th Spring Film Festival, is running from January 29 – February 7, 2016 at Shang Cineplex in the Shangri-La Plaza. For the full festival line-up, check out their Facebook page.
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