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The Laundryman (2015) [New York Asian Film Festival 2016]

thelaundrymanA hit man who works for a laundry company as a cover up grows a conscience.  He’s highly trained and excels at his job, however, for a while now, he is plagued by ghosts and he must find out what they want from him in order to restore some sort of peace to his life.  To do this, he enlists the help of a cute but possible clueless clairvoyant.  Through all of it, he finds out more about his victims, his boss, and himself.

The Laundryman is a hybrid horror/comedy/action film by director Chung Lee and written by Yu-Hsyun Chen and Chung Lee.  The tale built here fills the complex task of mixing multiple genres without going into parody or satire or become a send-off/homage to its genres.  Here the mix of the genres works very well and has the story evolves its elements just work.  However, the comedy levels are more present in the first third or so of the film and then occasionally throughout the rest of the film.  The comedy works because the viewer is not hit over the head with it.

That being said, some of the scenes are completely ridiculous in the best way possible.  The horror, mainly from the ghosts and not much blood outside of a few short scenes works here as well.  The ghosts here are not meant to scare but they work so well with the story.  The first fight sequence is fantastic, the way its written and shot make it really fun.  The rest of the fighting is also entertaining.  Getting all of these elements together creates a really fun whole.

The casting here feels rather perfect for the story and the style.  Hsiao-chuan (Joseph) Chang is an entertaining lead.  He has a charisma that helps carry the whole film.  His acting is just about perfect for the material.  It may not be the top performance seen at New York Asian Film Festival, but it’s still a damn good one.  Supporting him is Regina Wan as the clairvoyant and Sonia Sui as the boss, both opposites until the end.  Their performances show excellent talent as they both do extremely well.  The cast for the ghosts is fantastic too and they manage to keep a straight face through some truly ridiculous situations.

For a partially horror movie, the effects are not super prominent but what we’re given is well done.  The CGI is good and blends well in the scenes where it is present.  It’s not overly used which avoids it becoming an annoyance.  Outside of the effects, the film looks really good, it grabs the attention from the get go with its colorful representation of Taiwan and the life of a man who, by all accounts, could be living a very grim life.  Most of the film, besides the flashbacks, feels all so chipper.  In general, the film looks very good.

The Laundryman is a really fun, funny, and entertaining film.  It may be hard to find for a while being a festival title, however it’s absolutely worth checking out.  The story is good, the acting is on point, the fighting “punchy”, and the ending, all the way after the credits, will make you giggle.