New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘The Big Call’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘The Big Call’

Oxide Pang’s The Big Call portrays an international cat and mouse game between scammers and Chinese cops. These involves battles taking place in two places. The most fascinating of these battles takes place in Thailand. Some Chinese millennial in imitation Chanel everything is in some shady building. She finds herself roped into being a foot soldier to one of these scammers.

Little does everyone know that the millennial is Xu Xiaotu (Jiang Mengjie). She’s an undercover cop document video footage of the scammer, Liu Lifang (Gwei Lun-Mei) and her abuses. And Jiang and Gwei give so much body in expressing their characters’ fears, as they size each other up. They’re constantly planning escapes every time they verbally corner each other.

It’s too bad that The Big Call just doesn’t know when to quit. It isn’t just about these women and includes their male counterparts. They’re also showing the scammers pulling off schemes. Perhaps Pang is showing that they’re deceiving a wide net of people, rich and poor. But these schemes can get repetitive the more we see them.

Pang shoots his movie well and takes advantage of his locations, specifically the Thailand one. But it seems as if he can’t handle the scope this time, since the characters have their own limitations. Lifang, or Fang, is a ruthless female character. But just like most fictional women, her weakness is her boyfriend, Lin Yahai (Joseph Chang) who bamboozles her.

The film also tries to show an action packed world.  Lifang and Yahai often do their worst. They’re also constantly running while cops like Xiaotu’s ex Ding Xiaotian (Cheney Chen) are chasing them. But the effect here, as it combines shaky camerawork and indiscernible music, has a jittery effect. It’s too bad since some characters here are inherently fascinating to me.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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