Big Shot's Funeral

Release Date: January 17, 2003
Limited release

Hi, I barely have any screen time in The Italian Job.

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Big Shot's Funeral seems an interesting hybrid. Filmed in China, the cast for this comedy include stars from both the United States and China, acting in a caper that, on paper, sounds very funny indeed.

Donald Sutherland plays famed director Don Taylor, in China shooting his latest epic, a biography of the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty. In the middle of shooting the film, he suddenly loses all direction; he begins to doubt not only the film's direction, but his talent and his life choices as well. Searching for greater meaning, for both his life and his film, he begins a dialogue on Buddhism and reincarnation with YoYo (Ge You), a down-on-his-luck Chinese cameraman hired to film a documentary of Tyler shooting his latest film. With Tyler's assistant, the Chinese-born, Western-educated Lucy (Rosamund Kwan) acting as interpreter, the two men form a bond, and Tyler sees in YoYo a budding talent to be nurtured and encouraged. As the friendship between the two men grows, Tyler's personal and professional fortunes wane, and he grows increasing obsessed with a Chinese funereal rite he understands as a "comedy" funeral.

When Tyler takes ill, he begs YoYo to grant him a last wish for his own "comedy" funeral; as the director slips into a coma, YoYo works to create a funeral befitting the man he has come to admire and respect, a labor of love he hopes will also win the heart of the lovely Lucy. But the promoter that YoYo brings on to help turns the event into a mass-marketing extravaganza that could make both men rich, or bring complete financial and personal ruin. Things become even more complicated when Tyler recovers, and the fate of the funeral, the movie, and YoYo's love for Lucy, hang in the balance.

I'll admit I know little about Chinese cinema, but judging from past credits, both Rosamund Kwan and Ge You are well-known in that country. Joining Donald Sutherland on the American side is writer/director Paul Mazursky in one of his infrequent acting turns. Judging from the synopsis, this film could well transcend language bondaries and see its humor translate well to American audiences, and it could well break out of the art-house circuit to which most foreign-language films of consigned. Hopefully, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the US distributor, will soon find room on the schedule for this unique cross-cultural offering. I, for one, am looking forward to catching this unusual film. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)

Vital statistics for Big Shot's Funeral
Main Cast Donald Sutherland, Paul Mazursky, Ge You, Rosamund Kwan, Ying Da
Director Feng Xiaogang
Screenwriter Feng Xiaogang, Li Xiaoming, Shi Kang
Distributor Sony Pictures Classics
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG
Running Time 100 minutes
Screen Count 2
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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