Lost in Thailand: A Promising and Polite Debut
With Lost in Thailand, the hit sequel to Lost on Journey, Chinese writer/actor Xu Zheng makes a promising—if polite and familiar—directorial debut. Thailand's like a neutered version of the comedies Todd Phillips has recently revived. It's too amiably good-natured to be as offensively contrived as dreck like The Hangover and its knockoffs. When Xu Lang, Zheng's harried businessman, texts "I'm lost" to his unhappy wife, predictably admitting that his frantic quest to close a mysterious business deal in Thailand is not going well, it's more charming than it is trite. Zheng is apparently familiar with a number of cliched situations and generic characterizations. This character has seen a lot of movies, which he acknowledges when he compares his misadventures with high-strung traveling companion Wang Bao (Qiang Wang Bao) to Lord of the Rings and Infernal Affairs. Bao's best scenes are especially memorable, like when he fights a Muay Thai fighter, or gives Bo a brutally inexpert massage. Meanwhile, metro-sexual business rival Gao Bo (multi-hyphenate filmmaker Huang Bo, whose blockbuster comedies Crazy Racer and Crazy Stone helped propel Zheng to stardom) maniacally chases Lang and Bao's odd couple. Zheng errs on the side of improvisatory and lazily assembled Apatow-esque narrative episodes; many of those scenes are amiably goofy, but it all holds together based on his cast's charm and energy.
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