Monday, August 13, 2018

One bad movie - League of Gods


Of course NetFlix can't get it right all the time.

I remember my first encounter with Netflix, way back when I visited the USA, a long, long time ago... The friends we stayed with had Netflix. Wow. I was impressed.


I was impressed with Netflix. (The online Netflix, not the 'put it in the mail' Netflix, I'm old but not that old.) So many television shows, all ready to binge, even before binge-watching was a word. And lots and lots of movies.

Of course there was a lot of crap in there as well, but still...

Fast forward a bit, and great balls of fire, we got Netflix in the Netherlands as well! With fewer series and fewer movies, but still, compared with the endless commercials on the regular channels, it was paradise. (For the discerning reader: we have about 30% of the US selection.)

I still like Netflix today, though they should carefully reconsider the endless price increases. Disney is coming, and once their streaming channel arrives Netflix will lose anything Disney owned, such as the Marvel movies. (At that time I'll probably start switching between the two, half a year Disney, half a year Netflix, and so on.)

The best thing for Netflix to do is (probably) to branch out, offer different styles, genres, languages, quality. Not everything can or has to be a triple A blockbuster. On top of that, tastes differ. And finally, should we blame Netflix for the poor quality of a movie, or blame ourselves because Netflex does not force us to watch, do they?

So, bored as hell, on a rainy summer evening, I had a look at this one: League of Gods.

League of Gods aka Feng Shen Bang, 2016

This fantasy epic, chock full of CGI and featuring the biggest names in Chinese cinema, retells an old chinese story featuring demons, flying warriors, wizards and heroes in golden armor. Think of it as the Avengers going Bruce Lee. Only worse.

It's a mess. There's incredible wooden acting (it's like watching 10 year olds playacting their favorite movie), endless fight scenes (bloodless, obviously), and a script that explains little to nothing, except when character xyz tells explains character abc something (something which they both already knew making it painfully obvious it's only on the viewer's behalf).

If you can handle the cultural differences (I think after having been married to a Chinese girl for almost 20 years, and working for a Chinese company the last three years, I should at least have build up some tolerance) you'll ignore the golden armor and some of the over the top choreographs. Even the CGI isn't that bad... It's just, in general, in total, a poor movie. Pacing is irregular, story isn't anything special, fights are so so, there's no character development, and some of the actors look to be wondering what the hell they signed up for. I can't blame them.

That CGI baby didn't help either.


And then there is the part I do blame Netflix for... The dubbing.

(I don't blame them for the dubbing itself, but for making it my only option...)

In the Netherlands we are used to subtitled movies. This makes a difference. I can handle a Chinese movie in Mandarin or Cantonese. Now apparently reading is kind of a lost art, as foreign movies are typically dubbed in most countries. We typically don't dub in the Netherlands, we subtitle. We can read.

Netflix isn't aware of that minor fact. Here in the Netherlands they allow me to chose from four spoken languages: English, Spanish, French, German. And offer even more subtitles, including Dutch. But the original language is strangely missing...

And the dub is poor, poor, poor. Those 10 year olds that wrote the script and were inspirational to the actors? They also wrote and directed the dubbing. It's playacting squared. It's like watching an old Bruce Lee movie, without Bruce Lee.

I wasn't impressed too much with the movie, but the dubbing totally nailed it. And left it bleeding on the wall, it's innards still dripping, and none of the coyotes dared to get even close.

It seems the home-front didn't like the movie either. According to several websites the movie got only a 3 out of 10 from Chinese moviegoers. I think they were too kind.

(And don't get me wrong, there are some pretty damn good Chinese movies out there! Unfortunately League of Gods isn't one of them.)

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