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Mr. Six - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Lao Paor

China 2015

Genre:
Drama, Crime

Director:
Guan Hu

Cast:
Feng Xiaogang
Zhang Hanyu
Xu Qing
Li Yifeng
Kris Wu
Liu Hua
Shang Cencen
Liang Jing
Yu Hewei
Bai Jugang
Lian Yiming


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Mr. Six

Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Mr. Six (Feng Xiaogang) still patrols the streets, although the days when he was part of a gang are long gone. Yet, he is still respected in his neighborhood - even by the police. While most of his brothers from the past made the big bucks Mr. Six is just barely getting by. But he doesn't complain, if it weren't for his good-for-nothing son Xiaobo (Li Yifeng), who hasn't got in touch with him for ages. One day, Mr. Six learns that his son is in serious trouble. He looks into the matter and finds out that Xiaobo has scratched the car of Xiaofei (Kris Wu) in an act of revenge. Xiaofei is known for taking part in illegal street races and his scratched car isn't cheap. When Mr. Six confronts him things are about to get out of hand, but Mr. Six acts according to the old codex and rules of the underworld, which teenagers nowadays aren't familiar with anymore. Thanks to those rules he manages to come to an agreement. However, getting the money for the car could prove to be difficult. Mr. Six contacts his former brothers, but they seem too committed to the values of modern China these days: money...

Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 2 Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 3
Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "Mr. Six" is a pleasant surprise. A movie which knows exactly where it wants to go, but keeps the audience in the dark about it for quite a while. And yet we never feel tricked because of this. Only the trailer will lead you astray since it makes you believe that you will get a revenge thriller or even an action flick here. But that's not the case. "Mr. Six" is a drama. But not of the sort that is told with an unbearably slow pacing and puts everyday activities in the focus to define the characters through them. "Mr. Six" shows the contrast between the China of the past and modern China, wears itself out in the resulting conflict and at the same time underlines that maybe not everything is completely different from the past after all. It's surprising how much China we get to see here, although the movie is also aiming at an international audience, and therefore the picture also conveys a good amount of social criticism.

Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 5

Director Guan Hu ("Cow") takes his time with the introduction, though. We are introduced to the aged gangster Mr. Six, who is afraid of nothing and nobody and even enjoys the respect of the police. Despite his past and his oftentimes gruff nature he is a man who stands for justice. A certain portion of this sense of justice is already a part of him since his time as a gangster, since he follows a certain code: the jianghu. Because of this his character naturally also resembles that of those heroes from wuxia-stories, but we get to that a bit later again. First, there is no doubt that Mr. Six has experienced a lot in his past. When he is staring right in your face you won't have any other choice but to look away eventually. Nevertheless, the former gangster is now confronted with a world in which respect and other values aren't held up by adolescents anymore.

Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 6

Instead, modern China shows a face that is full of smoke and mirrors. First and foremost, there are fast cars, garish colors and lots of superficiality. Moreover, money simply rules everything. In terms of its narration the movie works on an interesting ground. The story constantly remains full of suspense since Mr. Six may be tied to his code, but we are still just waiting for the straw that breaks the camel's back, making him rebel against the modern world one last time. Not only Mr. Six shows that you shouldn't fool about with him. Particularly "Scrapper" is responsible for a real wow-effect, when he draws two gigantic knives right in the middle of a group of adolescents, giving us a glimpse at how things were resolved back in his days. Also, Zhang Hanyu ("Assembly"), next to Xu Qing, is one of the many very well cast supporting actors.

Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 7

The world the old gangsters are confronted with, seems to be full of juvenile wanna-be thugs who live off their parents' money and all share the same look of boygroup members. The tough looking Mr. Six with his striking features even gets upset about his son, because he doesn't resemble a real man with his soft looks, but looks more like a girl. Politeness and most importantly respect of your elders are nothing adolescents are familiar with these days - even though those were actually highly respected values in China. Thus, "Mr. Six" isn't just a drama revolving around a man who slowly has to realize that he can't find his place in a world like this anymore, but to some degree it also delivers some social criticism. What makes the movie so successful is that this criticism is at times wrapped in some nice deadpan or black humor. This mix certainly pays off, eventually.

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Mr. Six - Film Screenshot 10

Adolescents aren't portrayed that hopeless, though. Xiaofei reads wuxia-stories in his free time and although he doesn't show it at first he is actually quite impressed that there actually are still men like Mr. Six, who follow the old rules, left in this world. The drama astonishes with some emotionally pretty surprisingly effective moments. Feng Xiaogang, who is mostly widely known as the director of movies like "A World Without Thieves" or "The Banquet", plays the lusty protagonist just outstandingly. However, viewers who expect to get some action scenes will be disappointed. There isn't even a single one of them. But we constantly get a hint that a prequel about Mr. Six' past would turn out quite action-loaden and violent. The lack of action scenes fits to the movie's overall tone, although the rest isn't slow-paced at all. Yet, the epic looking finale celebrates itself too much and leaves us high and dry. Furthermore, the movie also turns out a bit too long with its 135 minutes running time. Apart from that "Mr. Six" is an outstanding crime drama, though.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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