"Year of the Fish"
Directed by David Kaplan.
Written by David Kaplan.
Starring An Nguyen, Tsai Chin, Ken Leung and Randall Duk Kim.
Release Year: ?
Review Date: 1/31/07
Rotoscoping animation films are curious to
me, because the effects of this style don't really look "animated"
to me. In fact, "Year of the Fish" is that rare animated film
that might have been better off NOT animating anything...nothing
about its story is out of the ordinary, and save for a couple of
characters who only exist in the lead's imagination, the animation
almost gets in the way of the storytelling.
A modern-day take of both a 9th-century
Chinese tale & the classic story "Cinderella", "Year of the Fish" is
about a just-off-the-boat Chinese immigrant named Ye Xian (An
Nguyen), who is taken in by an evil "beauty salon" owner named Mrs.
Su (Tsai Chin). Ye Xian is forced into massage parlor labor by
Mrs. Su, and when she refuses to suck off her patrons (no, I'm not
kidding, this is the kind of language we get with this modern-day
Cinderella!), Mrs. Su forces Ye Xian to do menial tasks around the
parlor, like scrubbing toilets, washing floors, and making grocery
runs. But, with the help of a mysterious old woman that only
Ye Xian can see (this old woman and a few other characters are
played by the great Randall Duk Kim) and a Chinese suitor who plays
the accordian (veteran character actor Ken Leung), we know that Ye
Xian is going to make it!
The acting in "Year of the Fish" is wildly
uneven--our lead, Ye Xian, is no good and Leung feels fake, but Duk
Kim is great and Chin is out of this world as the over-the-top evil
family matriarch. Throughout the film, I found myself not only
impeded but also uninterested in the animation playing out onscreen;
of course, without this animation, "Year of the Fish" really has
nothing going for it. Much like
Darkly", "Year of the Fish" looks great on paper but its
execution was ho-hum.
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard