Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai, Liu Jian, Yang Siming, Shi Haitao, Ma Xiaofeng, Xue Feng, Zheng Yi, Cao Kou, Zhu Hong. Directed by Jian Liu
Chinese animation gets a major boost with the urban crime drama “Have a Nice Day” from writer-director Liu Jian (Piercing 1). The hand-drawn animation consists of stunning landscapes filled with intricate details as a background for the crudely sketched characters that crop up in the neo-noir thriller. The atmosphere of the gangster film features shades of Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and early John Woo classics while the haunting beats of The Shanghai Restoration Project provide the moody soundtrack.
The film’s protagonist is a bag stuffed with a million yuan that changes hands several times among the unscrupulous figures. Zhang Xiao (Zhu Changlong) steals the loot from his gangster boss Uncle Liu (Yang Siming) so he can take his fiancé out of the small Chinese town to South Korea to repair a botched plastic surgery operation. Then there’s Yellow Eyes (Cao Kou) a hitman-turned-inventor armed with gadgets like x-ray glasses. He needs the cash to produce all the new products swirling around in his head while another couple dreams of retiring to Shangri-La. The loot changes hands several times during the 77-minute running time with Uncle Liu’s trusty hitman Skinny (Ma Xiaofeng) in hot pursuit.
Jian opens the film with a quote from Tolstoy’s “Resurrection” and then jumps deep down into the capitalism rabbit hole. Donald Trump’s voice is heard on a car radio as he gives his election night victory speech while various characters mention Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Brexit. There is also a great speech that breaks down people’s freedom based on three references; farmer’s market, grocery store, and online.
“Have a Nice Day” doesn’t waste it’s time developing characters. The audience is fully aware of the kind of people we are dealing with despite the lack of history. These are colorful caricatures straight out of a Coen Brothers film. Visually stunning and totally absorbing.