Directed by Han Han
Produced by Xu Zheng, Yu Meng, and Li Wenwen
Written by Yu Meng
Cast Eddie Peng, Deng Chao, Zhao Liying, Dong Zijian, Chin Shih-Chieh, Zhang Benyu, Li Ronghao, Zack Gao and Mason Le
Duckweed is a smash hit film released during the Chinese New Year and winning the hearts of general audiences in China and critics from all over the world. So Duckweed is a successful movie nearly every way possible.
A race car driver named Ah Lang gets the chance to visit his mother and father in their youth as the result of strangely a dangerous collision with an oncoming train. Ah Lang’s time traveling adventure starts to cause him to re-evaluate his relationship with his father and even who he is as a person.
From the plot description, you would be correct assume this film is some kind of Chinese version of ”Back to the Future”, but the film does manage to avoid the trappings of Back to the Future to tell its own original story despite the overall premise being the same. With a particular and quirky ”plot twist” of the movie diluting the influence felt from the Back to the Future film. Unlike in Back to the Future where most of the plot is just focused on Marty’s antics on getting his parents together.
Duckweed delves into a more character driven story by having much of the story dedicated to the main character and the younger version of his father interacting; Duckweed is predicated on their friendship. Since even before Ah Lang meets his the younger version of his father, he is already in a relationship with a woman who may or not be his mother. Duckweed is paced well enough all of the character stories intersect and complement each other very well. Villains of Duckweed are not of the cartoonish variety, although they’re cruel their cruelty seems to be within reasonable limits. One of the villains if you can call him that may even earn your sympathy when luck isn’t on his side. The humor is also a strong suit of the film lending the film a fun ambiance; however, the film isn’t saturated with so much comedy that you can’t take the film seriously.
A strong element of this film is how all of the little character stories come together to be a very comprehensive story overall. Subtle things you don’t expect to have an impact end up actually moving the story in a different direction. It’s probably the best sign that the writer behind this film was of a great caliber. This is what truly elevates the Duckweed from becoming just an another drama film with a by the numbers father-son conflict attached to it. Of course, the time traveling dynamic already puts on the father-son conflict on a different footing. I was going to say it was a collection of minor character stories within a central tale but that wouldn’t be correct since the presence of the main narrative story is too strong; instead, the other character stories are just pieces of the film that strengthened the main narrative tightly.
Duckweed isn’t simply a Chinese coating over a ”Back to the Future” type of story but as said before it avoids the trappings of that to tell an original story that’s worth seeing.