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Crazy Stone - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Fengkuang de shitou

China 2006

Genre:
Comedy

Director:
Ning Hao

Cast:
Guo Tao
Liu Hua
Huang Bo
Yue Xiaojun
Teddy Lin Chun
Hou Shu
Chen Zhenghua
Peng Bo
Xu Zheng
Gang Liu
Wang Xun


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Crazy Stone

Crazy Stone - Film Screenshot 1

Story: In a rundown factory a money-hungry building tycoon (Xu Zheng) wants to acquire an extremely valueable jade stone is found. The factory owner sees a way to finally pay his employees and not have to sell his factory. He exhibits the stone in an old temple in order to let the media partake in his discovery. To ensure security for the jade stone the factory owner hires Bao Shihong (Guo Tao), a former police officer. Bao has his hands full since three everything but professional thieves, Dao (Liu Hua), Xiaojun (Yue Xiaojun) and Hei Pei (Huang Bo), want to bring the stone into their possession. Apart from them a professional thief from Hong Kong (Teddy Lin Chun) wants to get his hands on the stone by order of the building tycoon, too. Furthermore, there is also the son of the factory owner, Charles (Peng Bo), who does everything in his power to score with the ladies. Thus, he switches the jade stone with a fake one and gives the original to a chance acquaintanceship of his who of all people just so happens to be Dao's girlfriend. The three thives kidnap Charles and don't believe his words that the girlfriend has the real stone. But the thieves come up with the idea to switch the stone with the one exhibited in the temple. Bao has to do something against the temple becoming more frequented than a train station...

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Review: Actor Andy Lau aimed at supporting young, promising actors with his scheme "FOCUS: First Cuts". Someone who benefitted especially well from this scheme is Ning Hao. Later on, Ning again should prove with his work "No Man's Land" that he is an outstanding director who maybe is China's only hope to bring to screen inventive as well as entertaining cinema at the same time without losing sight of his Chinese roots. "Crazy Stone" is an incredibly brisk comedy that puts unusual characters into its story and accordingly doesn't look as glaringly polished and meaningless as Western heist movies like the sequels to "Ocean's Eleven" etc. Numerous twists always cause the audience to have something to laugh about or marvel at the developments in another way.

Crazy Stone - Film Screenshot 5

Although the story develops with an incredibly fast pacing it isn't difficult, contrary to similar works, to keep track of things when it comes to the introduction of characters. Moreover, Ning Hao knows how he can utilize his characters in a profitable manner. Even the thieves who approach their objective in an everything but smart fashion manage to gain our sympathies with their haphazard nature. The pecularities of the different personalities are very refreshing and one of the main reasons why this comedy isn't dull for even a second. Next to that, the humor is convincing, too. The well-balanced mix of very discreet slapstick and play on words as well as absurd situations elevates this film over similar works quality-wise. Of course, you have to cope with the fact that some wordplay is lost in translation, but there are more than enough other opportunities to laugh.

Crazy Stone - Film Screenshot 6

Storywise, Ning Hao also delivers impressive stuff. The numerous twists keep things going and are original as well as funny. Technically, the director satisfies with inventive editing. This tool lets him raise the pacing considerably while also reminding us of directors like Guy Ritchie. Also reminding of that director is the fact that the different story threads of the characters are connected so that we see events take place with a delay from different perspectives. This looks smart at times, but as already stated is funny, too. As is the case with the different ideas for fade-outs and fade-ins. All in all the story proves to be a complex structure of multiple perspectives and story threads which are all intertwined. Witnessing in what way those overlaps have impact on the protagonists is always fun.

Crazy Stone - Film Screenshot 7

Actingwise we get absolutely professional work. Guo Tao ("Blind Detective") plays the story's actual hero fantastically. And with Huang Bo ("Dearest", "Cow") and Xu Zheng ("Lost in Thailand") additional roles are cast with prominent and excellent actors. The rest of the cast also doesn't need to hide. Next to the great directing and the fact that the minimum budget has been put to use just great, it's especially thanks to the actors that the movie doesn't look like an independent flick. All too often works of innovative directors, who are still waiting for their big breakthrough, have an air of cheapness to them. Ning Hao avoids this with technically remarkable skills.

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However, not everything in "Crazy Stone" is perfect. The fast editing, the splitscreens and other kinds of toying around all cause the events to seem put together a bit too fast. Breathers are also important in a movie to mentally deal with the events unfolding. We don't get that opportunity here. If you want to complain on a high level you could criticize that the screenpay seems a bit contrived, after all the characters are all connected and at times on muliple levels, whereas this is mainly attributed to chance happenings. Still, it's easy to forgive latter aspect in a movie like "Crazy Stone". How else could you bring together so many good ideas with well-achieved humor in one script? With this comedy Ning Hao managed to deliver a surprisingly successful movie at the box office and it's easy to see why the audience is so impressed.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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