Film Review: MACHI ACTION (2013) – directed by Jeff Chang

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Fantasia 2013
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MACHI ACTION (2013) - directed by Jeff Chang

Ever wondered what happens when the proverbial “Man in Suit” gets too old to continue on or gets fired in favor of someone younger and/or hipper? Jeff Chang’s charming, funny and heartwarming new film MACHI ACTION sheds some light on the matter by providing a satirical behind-the-scenes look at the world of kaiju/tokukatsu films and television programs.

Washed up actor Tie Nan’s (Chen Bo-Lin) childhood dream is shattered when the producers of the show in which he plays a space hero replaces him with a fresher face named Face (Owodog Zhuang). Together with his best friend and co-star Monster (Qiu Yanxiang), Tie Nan sets out to find new acting gigs that eventually lead him to rediscover himself, and enlightens him on what being a hero truly means.

Much like ROBO-G of last year, MACHI ACTION is a film that manages to defy the sheer absurdity of its subject matter by telling a story that audiences can easily empathize with, regardless of whether they’ve had any experience working in the entertainment industry. We all fear that one day we’ll be replaced by someone younger, faster, stronger with an eclectic set of skills that put our own to shame, be it in the workforce or even our own personal relationships. This anxiety over remaining relevant can sometimes result in us rising (or as is often the case, sinking) to levels we never dreamed of.  Tie Nan’s journey from fame and fortune to yesterday’s news is something everyone can relate to in some respect. I know I did, which is why MACHI ACTION worked for me on levels I wasn’t quite expecting.

Aside from the film’s subtext, MACHI ACTION’s undeniable highlights include the kaiju/tokukatsu scenes that director Chang lovingly lampoons. I’ve always felt there was a film worth making about what goes on behind-the-scenes in these films, be it a documentary or a work of fiction, and I’m glad to see Jeff Chang rise up to the occasion of giving us just that. Tie Nan plays Spacehero Fly, a takeoff on Ultra Man and watching him in action against some of the more absurd villains had me in hysterics.

Overall, MACHI ACTION is a film that walks the fine line between comedy and drama and does so brilliantly. I highly recommend checking this out if you’re lucky enough to catch it at a film festival near you.

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