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Crazy Racer
Crazy Racer

Huang Bo (rear) tries to catch up in Crazy Racer.
AKA: Silver Medalist  
Chinese: 瘋狂的賽車  
Year: 2008  
Director: Ning Hao  
  Producer: Han Sanping, Zhang Guoli
Writer: Ning Hao  
  Cast: Huang Bo, Jiu Kong, Dong Li-Fan, Jie Xiang, Jack Kao, Xu Zheng, Ma Shao-Hua, Ba Duo, Wang Shuangbao, Wang Xun, Liu Gang, Worapoj Thuantanon, Ning Hao
  The Skinny: An enormously entertaining caper comedy, Crazy Racer cements Ning Hao's reputation as one of mainland China's most promising commercial filmmakers. It may not make complete sense, but who really cares?
by Kozo:
Ning Hao, the talented director behind Crazy Stone, is back with Crazy Racer, the latest in his unofficial series of clever and enormously entertaining Chinese caper comedies. Originally called Silver Medalist, Crazy Racer stars the affable but unattractive Huang Bo (Crazy Stone, Fit Lover) as professional cyclist Geng Hao, whose initial gold medal win in a cycling competition is immediately downgraded to silver medal status. Afterwards, he’s framed for doping and summarily banned from the sport, plus his coach (Ma Shao-Hua) suffers a stroke. It seems life couldn’t be worse for Geng Hao.

Geng Hao’s downtrodden status doesn’t change, but it does open up a Pandora’s Box of crazy circumstances, convoluted character connections, and quirky characters that could fill approximately five or six films. Seeking to give his coach a decent funeral, Geng Hao opts for a “triad package”, which gives the departed a grand send-off attended by actors posing as triad members. Meanwhile, some real triad members (one played by the hardest working Taiwanese actor alive, Jack Gao) are in China to do a drug deal with an acrobatic Thai smuggler (Worapoj Thuantanon). The deal is supposed to take place at a racetrack where a cycling team is practicing. Guess who else also shows up?

The answer: everybody! Geng Hao turns up, but he’s not there because he used to be a cyclist. He’s actually looking for Li Fala (Jiu Kong), the toupee-wearing bastard who framed him for doping in the first place. Li Fala is at the track filming a new commercial for his latest scam product, plus he hired a couple of hilariously idiotic Mainland hitmen (Ba Duo and Wang Shuangbao) to off his overweight wife (Dong Li-Fan). However, they’ve decided to turn the tables for more dough, and show up at the track to take out Li Fala instead. They accidentally take out the wrong guy, Geng Hao gets fingered by the real cops for assaulting Li Fala, plus the dopey hitmen commandeer Geng Hao’s truck, making him the scapegoat for their crimes, too. All this, plus swapped mobile phones, crisscrossing plotlines and more mistaken identity than a seventies television sitcom. Audience exhaustion is all but assured.

If Crazy Stone was the low-rent China version of Ocean’s Eleven, then Crazy Racer is Ning Hao’s amusing riff on Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. Ning Hao mixes dark comedy, colorful characters, sudden violence and exaggerated details together, paces it all at breakneck speed, and manages to make the whole enthralling, entertaining, and breathlessly fun. Ning employs seedy details and characters, but portrays everything in such an irreverent fashion that it proves ultimately quite innocuous. The characters are largely pathetic, ridiculously deluded or comically cruel, making their sometimes-dark fates easy to take. The film’s pace makes it impossible to linger on anything anyway; Ning Hao is so assured at mounting his elaborate, Rube Goldberg-plotted action comedy that he all but disguises his film’s shortcomings.

Story-wise, Crazy Racer is an elaborate con, but such an accomplished one that one is only too happy to play along. Taking into account every last detail, the story doesn’t fully make sense, and is so enamored of tacking on endless plot twists and character connections that they become nearly meaningless. Ultimately, Ning isn’t able to keep his details flowing coherently, and the film wheezes to an overdue end. However, given the slick presentation, the genuinely funny comedy, and the film's ability to surprise, that flaw becomes only a minor quibble. Overall, Crazy Racer is a mainland commercial film jewel, and provides superior entertainment value for its meager emotional investment. There’s nothing to believe, buy or truly understand here. Crazy Racer is little more than a fast, funny and clever ride, and yet it's very much worth the time. (Kozo, reviewed at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2009)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam and Ronson
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
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image credit: Udine Far East Film Festival Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen