×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lost in Thailand

Scoring more than $160 million in three weeks to become China's highest-grossing domestic film ever, "Lost in Thailand" is a boisterous, joyously hokey comedy that connects with auds through its explicit desire to please.

With:
With: Xu Zheng, Wang Baoqiang, Huang Bo, Tao Hong. (Mandarin, Thai, English, Japanese dialogue)

Scoring more than $160 million in three weeks to become China’s highest-grossing domestic film ever, “Lost in Thailand” is a boisterous, joyously hokey comedy that connects with auds through its explicit desire to please. Helmed by lead actor Xu Zheng, the $2.2 million-budgeted follow-up to 2010’s modest hit “Lost on Journey” is unexpectedly well honed for a debut feature. Peppering this feel-good road movie with the perkier thrills of a cat-and-mouse chase, Xu draws sparks from a talented comic trio cast as three Beijingers on an accident-prone journey to Chiangmai. Boffo B.O. should stoke offshore ancillary interest.

Having clocked nearly 30 million admissions (it’s poised to challenge China’s two top-grossing films, “Avatar” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”), this lightweight entertainment is no masterpiece, but has proven a refreshing antidote to the year-end glut of blockbusters.

Written and directed by Hong Kong duo Raymond Yip and Manfred Wong, “Lost on Journey” starred Xu and Wang Baoqiang in an odd-couple road pic modeled on “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” Relocated to a foreign country, the sequel sacrifices its predecessor’s strong regional color for broader attitude and greater narrative whimsy. Playing new characters, Xu and Wang retain the oddball dynamic they had as men of different class and values, but the plot devices that bring them together feel more scripted. Thankfully, this is offset by the decision to bring character actor Huang Bo into the mix (he previously teamed with Xu in “Crazy Stone” and “Crazy Racer”), creating a more complex synergy.

An energy-company exec who helped develop a miracle fuel called Supergas, Xu Lang (Xu) is determined to secure the patent before his colleague Gao Bo (Huang) does, and he tries to track down reclusive prexy Zhou to buy out his stake. When Xu learns that Zhou has retired to a temple retreat in Chiangmai, he books the next flight to Thailand, unaware that Gao is hot on his heels. On the plane, he is besieged by friendly overtures from fellow passenger Wang Bao (Wang), an onion-crepe chef armed with a tourist’s to-do list that rivals “Eat Pray Love.”

Although Xu can’t wait to get rid of Wang at Bangkok Airport, circumstances and self-interest conspire to make him take on the doofus as an unlikely travel companion. The first big comic setpiece takes place in a deluxe hotel (riffing on a similar setup in “Journey”). The highlight is a farcical bedroom sequence that crosscuts between two wildly incongruous activities, the bawdy effect of which is enhanced by the three thesps’ expressive body language; still, the tasteless jokes directed at transvestites will make many auds cringe.

From that point onward, Wang and Xu get into one scrape after another as they traverse the Thai hinterland, while Gao keeps leaping out of nowhere to sabotage their activities. Amid the din of fast-moving dialogue and slapstick, the narrative pauses for a serene scene of Thai locals hoisting airborne lanterns into the sky, one of the film’s numerous reminders to stop and smell the roses — a message that seems to have struck a chord with busy mainland auds.

This theme also lends philosophical depth to the comical clash of mindsets between Wang and Xu: One lingers to absorb every new experience, while the other can’t wait to reach his goal. One’s bottomless desire to please is met by the other’s crabby displeasure. Xu’s eventual shift in perspective, though formulaic in nature, still packs an emotional wallop.

Wang’s flamboyant character has broad appeal as an outre variation on the gullible hicks he played in “Blind Shaft,” “World Without Thieves,” “Mr. Tree” and “Lost on Journey.” Xu plays the dyspeptic go-getter with barbed wit, softened with a hint of self-doubt. The most mean-spirited role falls to Huang, who proves as irrepressible as Wang in his determination to have his way.

The tech package is garishly slick; the postcard Thai locations, though pleasant, mostly serve to advance the plot.

Popular on Variety

Lost in Thailand

China

Production: A Beijing Enlight Pictures Co. release of a Beijing Enlight Pictures Co., YYT Media, Luck Road Culture Communication Co., Huang Bo Studio presentation of a Beijing Enlight Pictures Co., YYT Media production. (International sales: Golden Network Asia, Hong Kong. ) Produced by Xu Zheng, Abe Kwong Man-wai, Chan Chi-leung . Executive producers, Wang Changtian, Li Xiaoping. Directed by Xu Zheng. Screenplay, Xu, Shu Huan, Ding Ding.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Song Xiaofei; editor, Tu Yiran; music, Zhao Yingjun, Deng Ouge, Howie B; art director, Hao Yi; set decorator, Wu Changhua; costume designer, Hao Yi; sound (Dolby Digital), Dong Xu; re-recording mixer, Wang Gang; visual effects supervisors, Zhao huijie, Li Ming; action choreographers, Chen Shuo, Lee Chi-kit; line producer, Zhang Jiaku; assistant directors, Chen Shuo, Feng Xiaonan; casting, Joey Napop Sarasit. Reviewed at UA KK Mall, Shenzhen, China, Dec. 28, 2012. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Xu Zheng, Wang Baoqiang, Huang Bo, Tao Hong. (Mandarin, Thai, English, Japanese dialogue)

More Film

  • Nouras-Dream

    ‘Noura’s Dream’ Director Hinde Boujemaa Owes It All To The Arab Spring

    SAN SEBASTIAN —  Hinde Boujemaa might have started her filmmaking career later than others, but she hasn’t lost any time in the subsequent years. The Tunisian director’s 2012 documentary “It Was Better Tomorrow” premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and she now returns with her feature-length fiction debut, “Noura’s Dream,” which follows a working-class woman [...]

  • Nudo-Mixteco

    Ángeles Cruz’s ‘Nudo Mixteco’ Impresses at San Sebastian Works in Progress

    SAN SEBASTIAN —   Ángeles Cruz, one of Mexico’s highest-profile indigenous cineasts, screened for the first time a nearly-finished version of her feature debut “Nudo Mixteco” at the San Sebastian Films in Progress sidebar. Having won two Mexican Academy Ariel Awards for her first two shorts, “Nudo Mixteco” arrived in Spain buzzing. It deftly intertwines [...]

  • NUESTRAS-MADRES-OUR-MOTHERS

    Outsider Pictures Nabs U.S. Rights to 'Our Mothers,' Belgium's Oscar Submission (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN —    Paul Hudson’s Outsider Pictures has picked-up U.S. distribution rights to César Díaz’s “Nuestras madres” (“Our Mothers”), Belgium’s submission for the international feature film Academy Award. Sold by Pyramide International, “Our Mothers” world premiered at Cannes’ Critics Week, winning the Golden Camera for best first film at the Cannes Festival. Outsider Pictures [...]

  • El-Peso

    Basque Industry Backs Female Filmmakers with Noka Mentoring Program

    SAN SEBASTIAN — The Noka Mentoring program, a local initiative to support up-and-coming Basque female filmmakers, kicked off on Monday morning at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. The program was co-developed by the Basque Government’s Department of Culture and Language Policy and Zineuskadi, a non-profit org set up by the department and the two [...]

  • INLAND

    Basque Production: New, Upcoming Titles

    ‘+90dB’ A Basque rock band travels the globe playing to diehard fans from Japan, the U.S., Germany and France. Marina Lameiro’s second film, produced by Arena Comunicación and Txalap.art. ‘918 NIGHTS’ Arantza Santesteban writes and directs her first feature documentary in which she explores the experience of being incarcerated for what seemed to be 918 [...]

  • THE-PLATFORM

    Basque Cinema Broadens Industrial Base

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Basque cinema is attacking the future with higher industrial and creative expectations than ever, playing off two motors: Co-production with other parts of Spain, international equity partnerships. Two game-changers in the Basque film landscape, “Handia,” winner of 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards in 2018, and “Loreak,” Spain’s 2016 Oscar submission, have contributed [...]

  • The Taste Of Pho

    'The Taste Of Pho' Bows Trailer Ahead Of San Sebastian World Premiere (EXCLUSIVE)

    Poland’s New Europe Film Sales is handling worldwide sales rights to Mariko Bobrik’s feature debut “The Taste of Pho.” The food drama’s trailer is launching exclusively in Variety ahead of its world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Culinary Cinema sidebar. Described as a story about love, misunderstanding and food, “The Taste of Pho” follows Long, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content