The Mermaid. 2016. China/Hong Kong. Directed by Stephen Chow. In 3-D. 94 min.
The great Hong Kong comic Stephen Chow wrote and directed—but does not appear in—this raucous contemporary fairy tale adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. A spiky-haired Chinese businessman (played by the popular mainland comedian Deng Chao) schemes to add the tranquil Green Bay nature reserve to his real estate portfolio, unaware that the bay is home to a race of merpeople—who counterattack by sending one of their own (the winsome Lin Yun) in human disguise to seduce and compromise him. Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) shifts effortlessly between slashing social satire and genuinely affecting romantic comedy, and Chinese speakers will appreciate Chow’s trademark (and, sadly, untranslatable) wordplay.