Review: MILLION DOLLAR CROCODILE 百萬巨鳄 (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 6 August 2012



Billed as China's first monster movie, MILLION DOLLAR CROCODILE is essentially a throwback to the B-grade Hollywood monster movie populated in the '80s with a distinctively local flavor. But unfortunately this horror schlock isn't thrilling or funny enough to warrant MILLION DOLLAR CROCODILE as a worthwhile guilty-pleasure entertainment.

Set at a rural town of Hangzhou, China in June 2011, Liu (Shi Zhaoqi), owner of a rundown crocodile park, has forced to sell all his beloved crocodiles to a crooked businessman, Zhao (Lam Suet), in hope to give them a better life. Among the crocodiles is a gigantic, 8 metre-long female nicknamed as Mao, which also happens to be a young boy named Xiaoxing's (Ding Jiali) best friend. However, the fate of the crocodiles are mostly end up as expensive meats catered for a bunch of tourists at Zhao's restaurant. When the head chef (Xiong Xinxin) attempts to slaughter Mao, the giant crocodile attacks him violently and manages to escape out of the restaurant.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to a beautiful woman named Wen Yan (Barbie Hsu), who has just returned from eight years working in Italy with 100,000 euros (that's close to RMB 1 million) she's been safekeeping all along inside her bag. When she suspects her handsome fiance, Zhou Xiaoou (Purba Rgyal) is having an affair with someone else, she ends up very upset. But her fiance hardly cares about her feeling and dumps her in the middle of nowhere.

After she fails to hitch a ride, she ends up walking down to a tea plantation farm, and stumbles upon a giant crocodile trying to chase her down. She manages to climb up the pole, while defending herself with her bag. The giant crocodile ends up swallowing her bag and disappears quickly. Since her bag is so valuable, she refuses to give up tracking that giant crocodile down and quickly alerts a junior local policeman named Wang Baiji (Guo Tao), known by his colleagues and also his son, Xiaoxing as Useless Wang. He actually got that nickname because of his inability to shoot his firearm properly. Wen Yan tells him everything about the incident, but he doesn't believe her at all. It's not until one of the locals complained that his sheep is mysteriously gone, it becomes evident that Wen Yan is telling the truth after all.

With Mao, the giant crocodile continues to roam dangerously around the rural town, Wen Yan alerts the police force to search for the creature with the help of Liu, before it's all too late.

The good news is, MILLION DOLLAR CROCODILE doesn't take itself seriously. And somewhere in between, there's a wacky tone favored for local audiences. But the script, written by Lin Lisheng, Ma Hua and Ma Yu, is strictly formulaic and lack of broad appeal to make everything into a full circle. I can see this movie tries hard to be as silly as it gets, but most of the humor comes up short. Then all those action set-pieces are hugely disappointing -- let's just say there are lack of imagination needed to keep the genre fans occupied. It seems that director Lin Lisheng shows little interest to execute some genuine scare or even spectacular attack scenes whatsoever, since the giant crocodile is often seen fleeing from the scene. Seriously?

The cast, in the meantime, is a mixed bag. Barbie Hsu's often hysterical act of shouting the loss of her precious bag containing her 100,000 euros and her handphone, is quite annoying at times. Guo Tao is likeable as Wang Baiji, while genre veteran Lam Suet is fairly hilarious as the crooked businessman, Zhao.

Production credits are fairly adequate, while the CGI creature effects on Mao, the giant crocodile, is essentially a direct-to-DVD standard.

Overall, it's rather a shame that Lin Lisheng fails to capitalize the full potential of this monster-movie genre. Anyway, for those who rather care, the movie ends up with an open finale for a sequel which has already been written by Lin. Here's hoping that Lin can redeems himself with a sequel somewhere in the future.

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