'China Town' is a film that makes imprudent use of three of the best stars in Malayalam showbiz and thus lands itself in jeopardy. The only attempt it makes is to raise a few quick laughs, and no wonder then, that its characters turn out to be plainly one-dimensional.
The film tells the story of Mathukutty (Mohanlal), Binoy (Dileep) and Zacharia (Jayaram) returning to China Town in Goa after twenty five years, to reclaim a casino. They still remember the night when they had fled the place, when their dads were murdered by a local Casion kingpin (Pradeep Rawat). The three men have been out of touch for a long while, and despite their differences find themselves bonded against evil.
The scripting of 'China Town' must not have been a tedious process in all likeliness. This is the kind of story that Bollywood gorged on, a few decades back. Dads getting bumped off by a meanie, and the sons returning to wreak vengeance is something that one normally associates with Eastman Color. Here, the techniques have changed, but the tale remains the same.
When the story is so flimsy, attempts have to be made to throw in some real funny gags. Do they work? Depends on your sense of humor really. If you would laugh your spleen out seeing Suraj playing a mafia kingpin, chances are that you are going to have a gala time watching 'China Town'.
The idea on which the latter half of the film is based is a straight lift off Todd Philips' 2009 smash hit 'The Hangover'. The three men have a bit too much of some white stuff that the local don (Suraj Venjarammoodu) offers, and everything turns blurry thereafter. 'The Hangover' deserved a decent remaking, if at all one is attempted, and 'China Town' does no justice to it. Not even remotely.
There is another scene in the film where you get to see Binoy, pretending to be handicapped before a girl, gets beaten black and blue by Mathukutty and Zacharia. Remember Anil Kapoor going through exactly the same trauma before a sympathetic Sonu Walia in the 1991 film Khel? The dearth of comic ideas seems to be quite grave indeed.
The Sumo wrestler Libor Dizo who has grabbed quite a lot of ad space in Rafi Mecartin's new film 'China Town' embodies the mysterious spirit of the film. Libor who appears in a cameo, is there in the film, for no particular reason, and the same applies to the film as well. It would never actually be known why films like 'China Town' are made. Equally strange is the way the lead actors keep screaming at each other through out the film. Screaming, as in making loud, ear-splitting hollers at the end of a scene, for no purpose whatsoever. If they were trying to be funny, all we would say is, it's sad. Real sad.
Mohanlal as Mathukutty is quite impressive, and with a few amazing moves proves that the dancer in him is still in tact. Jayaram sports a wig that is quite an embarrassment; clearly the 'bangs' would have looked much better on a pretty young girl. Dileep is the livewire in the film, and the very few genuinely humorous moments are courtesy this actor. Suraj doesn't disappoint; he gets beaten up, thrown around and wait; stripped for a change.
Despite the spectacular star cast 'China Town', is yet another downer from Rafi and Mecartin, after the disastrous 'Love in Singapore'. It's a mishmash of second hand ideas that have long had their run in movies.