Film: 'The Green Hornet'; Director: Michel Gondry; Actors: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz; Rating: **
In 1966, a man of Chinese descent made his acting debut in a TV series. The series with this Chinese sidekick lasted just one season, but it would later help the same man launch his acting career in Hong Kong. The man was the legendary Bruce Lee and the series The Green Hornet.
There was nothing exceptional about The Green Hornet series - either in its previous radio avatar or later on TV. Sadly, the film isn't much of an improvement either.
Britt Reid (Rogen) is the playboy son of a rich newspaper editor. He hates his father but finds himself entrusted with his dad's property after his sudden death. Hating his father in life, he rejects almost his entire legacy, except for one - a Chinese origin man called Kato (Chou), who is a genius with as much penchant for invention as for kicking butt with his martial arts. After a night's fooling around leads them to save a couple from being killed by a street gang, they decided to turn vigilante, for fun.
Despite its genuinely funny moments, 'The Green Hornet' disappoints. This wouldn't have been as disappointing had it not been from director Michel Gondry - the auteur of such masterpieces as 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', 'The Science of Sleep' and 'Be Kind Rewind'. His typical penchant for the absurd floating over some simple emotions as seen in all these three films is missing in 'The Green Hornet'.
The reason for this clumsy excuse for cinema could be two - perhaps there was too much producer interference for this Frenchman director to handle or maybe Gondry knows what to do with scripts that emerge from his own imagination but does not know what to do with scripts written by others.
The fans of the original series would have enough to cheer about. Like the radio series that used classical music for themes and to bridge scenes, this has ample dose of your past-masters. Then there is the tribute to Bruce Lee, with Jay Chou imitating many trademark Bruce Lee stunts - the massive side kick, lightning non-stop punches, the one-inch punch etc. Gondry accentuates his stunts with slow motion and strobe effect.
What is however missing in the film is a sense of direction - an idea or soul, if you can call that - something that audiences have begun to expect from vigilante films as a rule, after films like 'V for Vendetta', 'The Dark Knight' and 'Iron Man' redefined rules of a superhero film. A fun, pointless film with cool gadgets will not suffice anymore.
Even in the genre of funny vigilante films, 'KickAss' (unreleased in India), have set such high standards of humour and wit, that the strain will show on any new film, as it does here.
Perhaps Seth Rogen who is also the producer and co-writer of the film, should stick to that which he indeed is good at - acting, instead of meddling with story writing.