Starring : Josie Xu Jiao, Sung Dong-il, Kim Hee-won, Joe Odagiri
Director : Kim Yong-hwa
Release Date : 1 Aug 2013
I’ve been looking forward to Mr Go ever since I first read about it, and I must say that visually, it was better than I expected.
In fact, the CGI was so realistic and the details so impressive that it could have fooled me, if the gorillas weren’t playing baseball, that is. I guess that’s where most of the movie’s US$22.5mill (RM72.79mil) production went, but I’m not complaining.
Basically, the story is about a Chinese girl who forms a bond with a gorilla who is recruited by a materialistic South Korean sports agent to play professional baseball in Seoul.
She is Zhao Weiwei, a feisty 15-year-old circus ringmaster whose grandfather died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and left her to take over the circus with dozens of little orphan mouths to feed, in addition to a mountain of debts.
So, when a baseball agent Sung Choong-soo offers her a contract for her gorilla friend Lingling to play professional baseball, she jumps on the next plane to South Korea even before signing on the dotted line.
Playing the teen ringmaster is Josie Xu, best known as the mainland Chinese child actress who acted as Stephen Chow’s precocious little boy in the adorable alien pet flick CJ7 (2008). She even won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Performer for that movie which I feel is her most memorable role yet. In Mr Go, she has grown into a sweet young thing, but the role here is a sheer waste of her talent.
Admittedly, the gorilla is the main star and manages to tug at the heart-strings.
As a contrast to the docile Lingling, a vicious gorilla named Leiting is brought in for a showdown towards the end of the movie. And, for someone who doesn’t play the game, I found the baseball scenes entertaining enough, though Mr Go does rely on the same cliches that plagues sports drama.
However, you can trust South Korean comedian Sung Dong-il to deliver the goods with his multi-layered performance as the “bounty hunter” sports agent who starts off as a detestable fellow who will not hesitate to resort to dishonest means to achieve maximum gain, but who quickly evolves into a generous and emphatic character that you will grow to love.
As far as supporting characters go, Kim Hee-won is commendable as the wacky loan shark, but what I certainly didn’t expect to see was Japanese heartthrob Joe Odagiri in a cameo appearance as the dorky and eccentric baseball team owner Junichi Ito.
For what it’s worth, Mr Go is a heart-warming treat that will appeal to kids of all ages and has well and truly changed the way I look at gorillas.