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A curiosity whichever way you slice it, Animal World features a maniacal clown battling bizarre CGI monsters, Michael Douglas flying his super-villain freak flag, and intermittent maths lectures to explain possible strategies in a huge, deadly tournament of rock-scissors-paper. There’s some narrative logic girding the whole unlikely structure, but it’s a wilfully eccentric mix. Imagine a YouTube video mashup of ultraviolent manga, David Fincher’s Douglas-starrer The Game from 1997, and a TED talk about game theory – except that description risks making this sound like more fun to watch than it is, especially given the bloated two-hour-plus running time.
Li Yifeng stars as Kaisi, a damaged young man who works as a clown in a local arcade. In moments of emotional stress, Kaisi is prone to imagine himself as a clown with ace fighting skills battling ornate beasties in, for no particular reason, a subway car. It all has something to do with a trauma stemming from childhood, when his father was killed while Kaisi was watching a clown-themed TV show. In the present, he’s scrambling to make enough money to pay for his comatose mother’s hospital bills, and forced to borrow from his schoolfriend and sort-of girlfriend Qing (Zhou Dongyu), a gamine love interest who happens to also be a nurse, thus saving on locations.
A run of bad luck finds Kaisi pressganged into taking part in a massive multiplayer game of rock-scissors-paper aboard a ship called Destiny, the whole shebang run by Douglas’ nefarious gangster. But wouldn’t you know it, Kaisi’s dad was a maths teacher, so for a huge chunk of the movie Kaisi explains probabilities to his confederates, illustrated by A Beautiful Mind-style graphics in order to make it clearer what the hell is going on. What he fails to explain is who director Han Yan and the producers think they were making this movie for, because it’s extremely nerdy stuff, however many killer clown fantasy sequences are dropped in.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Animal World review – A Beautiful Mind with fighting clowns | World cinema