Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There was a time, and I’m betting you can pinpoint the exact moment in when this time changed as to when he met his wife Madonna, when Guy Ritchie would have made a film similar to the comedic Chinese crime caper ‘Crazy Stone’.  A simple story with various oddly wonderful characters following multiple threads leading to a common goal.  Yes, Guy Ritchie, before he starting sucking hard might have a made a film similar to this, but now the man is making bad romantic comedies and with ‘Revolver’ he’s made arguably the worst movie by a formerly good director ever.  But let’s not talk about Guy, and let’s focus on 28-year old Chinese director Hao Ning, who we can assume will improve on this fine effort, make better and better films and hopefully won’t marry an aging pop star who will ultimately destroy his career.


Shihong Bao (Tao Guo) is good man who can’t pee.  Prostrate problems one could assume.  A can of coke has fallen from the sky and cracked the windshield of his truck, a truck which is now rolling down the hill and crashing into a BMW.  He’s having a crappy day, but things improve when his friend, the caretaker of a factory, stumbles upon a priceless jade artifact and hires Bao, a former police cadet, to organize security for this stone.  The caretaker you see is under pressure to sell his land to a greedy developer, but he wants to hold on to his plant because of the jobs it supplies and a big museum exhibit for the stone should supply the funds for just that. 

Our evil developer has other plans and hires a slick, lethal thief to steal stone for him.  But to complicate matters, three bumbling grifters have lifted the master thief’s briefcase with his plans and have determined that they should be able to steal the stone

too.  Not to mention the caretaker’s worthless son, who has plans for the stone as well.  Little does Bao know that the challenge he will be facing will be a daunting one.


Overly complex?  Well, maybe but director Ning, who also co-scripted handles the divergent plotlines quite masterfully and with a deft comic touch.  The things that work in ‘Crazy Stone’ work very well.  Oft times when a director resorts to quick fancy cuts and split screens with sound effect laden zooms, he or she is usually trying to mask some kind of stench but this actually works in the favor of ‘Crazy Stone’, adding to the overall chaos that the director has flung us into.  Despite the ridiculous nature of the surroundings, the characters in this crazy world are all quite real a very well realized.  The bumbling grifters are just that and nothing more, no hearts of gold, not particularly bad people, just clumsy criminals is all.  All the characters follow the same suit and all of the actors handle their roles well, but it hinges on the outstanding comic performance Tao Guo as the obsessive compulsive wannabe detective.


Despite the fact that overall I found the movie quite enjoyable, it still felt a little bloated and probably would have benefited from having some time shaved from it’s length to make the narrative flow a little more smoothly.  Some parts seemed to drag on, and early on it took a while for the film to find it’s groove. Also, though I’m no member of NOW, but women seem to serve less purpose in Chinese cinema than they do in American cinema.  And since it’s rare to find nudity in Chinese films, and the roles given to women in these films are so inconsequential, it’s a wonder they stick women in movies at all.


Still though, ‘Crazy Stone’ is one of the better films I’ve seen coming out of China in recent times, which used to consistently release winning films, but not so much anymore.  Here’s hoping director Ning has a glorious career and can build on this great effort, and here’s hoping that he avoids aging Chinese pop stars, not that I’m trying to say anything about that.

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