Although Stephen Chow’s (周星馳) The Mermaid <美人魚> was released in the competitive Lunar New Year market, it has earned over 3 billion RMB in the Mainland Chinese box office, becoming the highest grossing movie in China of all time. The Mermaid accomplished this feat within 19 days of its release. While Stephen Chow appears to have the Midas touch, he shares that directing The Mermaid was one of his most difficult projects.
Comedies Are No Easy Feat
The Mermaid was inspired by Stephen’s love for fairy tales. Turning a simple love story between a wealthy playboy and a mermaid into a large production fantasy film took blood, sweat, and tears. Stephen expressed, “Filming a tragedy is an easy job, but to bring the smallest amount of laughter, it takes a tremendous amount of effort and hard work. Comedies are extremely hard to work with.”
Although Stephen has had his fair share of supporting and nameless roles in the beginning of his career, he rose to stardom after six years. However, popularity brought upon endless negative gossip. Often dubbed as a dictator with a god-complex, Stephen made many enemies during his career due to his strong temper. However, Stephen never once cared about his public image and focused solely on making the highest quality productions for his fans.
However, despite his serious demeanour, actors who’ve worked with Stephen always praised the director for his professionalism and expertise. Show Luo (羅志祥), who plays Octopus in The Mermaid, said Stephen will only accept a scene once it’s up to his standards.
Movie’s Success Due To Mother’s Influence
While he is known for producing comedies, Stephen explained that all his movies actually contain the life lessons his mother taught him during his youth. “I like inserting warm feelings into movies. And that fact is actually mentioned in the movie CJ7 <長江七號>. I love fairy tales in real life, and when I make movies, I keep this idea in mind. For example, Shaolin Soccer <少林足球> and Kung Fu <功夫> have underlying fairy tale elements.”
Stephen concludes, “I think The Mermaid is very simple love story. Another theme is environmental protection – it’s not to heavy-hearted and I think this is very relatable to real life.”
This article is written by Su for JayneStars.com.