Slaughtered by crix, which didn’t keep it from bagging a bonny 40 million yuan ($6 million) in August, “Gasp” is no worse than several other self-consciously hip, emotionally frantic satires on New China’s money fever. Helming debut by writer Zheng Zhong (“Baober in Love”) looks destined for some kind of cult status simply due to its weird assembly of talent, including top mainland comic Ge You, two Taiwanese (Kelly Lin, Chen Bo-lin) and three Yanks (including vet John Savage). All that’s wrong with “Gasp” is — gasp! — it’s frequently over-goofy and overall not very funny.
Texan cheese-maker Frank Dreibelbis (Savage, coasting) arrives dazed and confused in Beijing to sell the family company (which he’s already milked dry) to a gullible Chinese investor. But Li Qiang (Ge, deadpanning wryly) isn’t gullible, he’s simply dealing with liquidity and family problems, so gets his wannabe actress assistant (Lin) to take Frank on long sightseeing tours while he tries to stop his own life from collapsing. Meanwhile, Frank is approached by a Shanxi mine owner (Liu Hua), who’s on the run. Norwegian d.p. Aasulv Wolf Austad’s saturated cinematography swings between well-composed and artfully pretentious.