Director: Jeff Chang
Starring: Chen Bolin, Owodog, Guo Xue Fu, Ko Chen-tung, Stanley Huang
Spacehero Fly is a popular children’s superhero program that has legions of fans, high ratings, and a leading man, Tie Nan (Boling Chen) who loves his job and his fans. Fast forward 10 years and ratings are in the dumps and the former masses of fans have moved on. When the president of the TV network and a longtime supporter of the Spacehero Fly series, falls ill, his hard-nosed and book savvy daughter takes over and immediately updates the show with a newer and more mature direction. Finding himself replaced, Tie Nan navigates life after his show and discovers that his years of exaggerated posing and stuntwork have left him ill-equipped for this decade’s entertainment world.
Writer/director Jeff Huang helms this very funny and referential look at what becomes of our heroes when they no longer seem to speak to a new generation. Chen is absolutely hilarious as Tie Nan and his posturing in the real world had me laughing out loud on more than a few occasions. Being a very likable guy but woefully unable to navigate the real world had me rooting for him to a degree that surprised even me. Supporting actors are fantastic as well, standouts include Qin Yanxiang as Monster, the longtime friend and kaiju suit wearer who is as loyal a friend as they come. Chen Tingxuan is good as the potential interest of Tie Nan, she certainly plays it straight when compared to many of the wilder personalities present. Injecting humor at every turn, the extended cast delivers a number of memorable moments; from a shop-at-home personality to a muscle-bound adult film actor.
The film looks great; there is a great style to both the world of the television show as well as the real world. The production on the superhero show is evocative of classic Ultraman and Kamen Rider; sets are filled with model buildings, rubber suits, and neckerchiefs. The art direction is terrific and definitely added to the sale of the picture. Music is well composed with the hero theme song kicking the film off in grand style, the scored moments are very good, and the few dramatic scenes reminded me of the childhood scenes from Ping Pong. Sound effects are accurate and the few VFX shots are well executed and look great. It’s a surprisingly tight production and I expect that a lot of pre-production was done to achieve the film’s style and tone. Kudos to the editing department for the whip quick pace and a number of hilarious and brilliant cuts.
In the end, Machi Action is a terrific film from Taiwan that came out of nowhere to utterly charm my pants off. It is hilarious, well-acted, and has a light hearted feel that promises multiple viewings. Well-paced and constructed in a way to truly invest the viewer, I cannot recommend this film enough. If you’re looking for an enormously entertaining film that should evoke periods of childhood hero worship, you’d be hard pressed to find a more reverent film.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Ping Pong, Zebraman, and King of Comedy