[REVIEW] Saving Mr Wu smashed Singapore’s box office!

In just five days, Saving Mr Wu has smashed Singapore’s box office with a whooping $130,000! Have not heard of this latest Chinese crime film released? Well, listen up.

Saving Mr Wu, directed by DingSheng whose works include Police Story 2013 and Little Big Soldier (2010), was adapted from a true kidnapping case which happened in Beijing, China, in 2004. Starring Andy Lau, who played Mr Wu, a movie star, was kidnapped by a group of criminals eager to seek a large ransom sum due to his occupation. This film sought to portray the true adaptation of the 2004 case. As such, drop the thoughts of anticipating huge explosions or dramatised car chases along the streets and instead, be prepared to be presented with a genuine depiction of police investigations, nerve-wrecking interrogations, and heartfelt emotions experienced by all the parties involved in the kidnapping crime.

 Trailer of Saving Mr Wu by Film Kingdom Group

Different from other crime movies, Director DingSheng adopted a documentary-style filming, hoping to remain true to the actual case as he narrated the story to the audience. As such, actors on set were requested not to act or adopt their roles, but to feel and react as if they were the individuals involved. This was also Andy Lau’s first time as a kidnap victim, differing from his past roles as either the police or the criminal. During the filming, he was mostly chained down to the bed and handcuffed, facing great constraints to portray his character through body languages. His great and admirable acting skills came mostly from his facial expressions and dialogues with the kidnappers.

Andy Lau, as Mr Wu, who gave this film its title, Saving Mr Wu Credits: Clover Films

Sounds like a easy job for him being just tied down? Definitely not so. Every expression he portrayed had to be “real” and true in essence. As he sunk deeper into his role, Andy Lau showed laudable professionalism in demanding for actions to be carried out real. For instance, he added a scene where he was strangled by cables to bring out the richness of emotions when interacting with the kidnappers and even demanded that the act of strangling to be done onto him, for real. The eventual result was a breathtaking scene where he fought hard to breathe under the force of the kidnappers, face flushing red and desperately gasping for air in distress.

This movie has thus achieved two nominations for the upcoming Golden Horse Awards 2015, with Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing. Speaking of which, success of the movie cannot exclude the spine-chilling performance by WangQianYuan whose role was adapted from the mastermind of the 2004 case. The few scenes which included Andy Lau and WangQianYuan were intense as both actors raised the tension between the culprit and victim with their immersed performance.

Credits: Clover Films

Together with WuRuoFu and LiuYe, starring as Detectives CaoGang and XingFeng, Director DingSheng was also able to bring out the different emotions in the detectives, with agitation and anxiety to solve the crime, calmness in dealing with head-on confrontations with the mastermind and also their helplessness when pressed for time. All in all, every character in the movie was brought to life not as typical fictitious characters, but real individuals experiencing the genuine fear and determination to save Mr Wu.

WuRuoFu Credits: Clover Films

Before 2015 comes to an end, this movie was definitely a refreshingly different crime film. Perhaps not known to many, the actual kidnapping in 2004 involved WuRuofu who is indeed the real Mr Wu. Knowing the fact before I entered the theatres, WuRuoFu’s performance brought tears to my eyes towards the end of the movie where he sat with Andy Lau after the successful rescue. There, he had a line to ask, “Why do you have nothing to say after the rescue?”

WuRuoFu, once intended to be the main lead, was unable to take on the role of Mr Wu as he does not want to undergo the torment once again. However, his courage to participate and resilience to take on as a third-party was commendable.

Saving Mr Wu is released by Shaw and Clover Films and is now open in theatres with additional sessions

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