Jay Chou and Seth Rogen in The Green HornetThe Green Hornet made its debut in 1936 on a radio show in Detroit. Since then, the crime-fighting vigilantes have had numerous makeovers and been featured in film serials, a television show and comic books. The latest adaptation is an awesome feature film that lives up to any and all expectations for humour, cool gadgets and fight sequences. I can’t attest to whether it’s faithful to the versions in any of the other mediums, but I can say without a doubt that this movie can, and does, stand alone.

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the son of L.A.’s most prominent and respected media magnate and perfectly happy to maintain a directionless existence on the party scene – until his father (Tom Wilkinson) mysteriously dies, leaving Britt his vast media empire. Striking an unlikely friendship with one of his father’s more industrious and inventive employees, Kato (Jay Chou), they see their chance to do something meaningful for the first time in their lives: fight crime. To get close to the criminals, they come up with the perfect cover: they’ll pose as criminals themselves. Using all his ingenuity and skill, Kato builds the ultimate in advanced retro weaponry: Black Beauty, an indestructible car equal parts firepower and horsepower. Britt becomes the vigilante The Green Hornet, and he and Kato quickly start making a name for themselves. With the help of Britt’s new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), they begin hunting down the man who controls L.A.’s gritty underworld: Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz).

The story’s characters are brilliant. Britt proves to be crude on most occasions, but also a master of the one-liner. Many of his jokes are at the expense of Kato, but they’re so funny it’s impossible not to laugh. Kato is the straight man with all the ideas and skill; but he’s relegated to sidekick because Britt has all the resources. Chudnofsky is a great villain. He’s a little insane, but very ambitious. In addition, his obsession with his scariness is a constant point of amusement. Lenore is vital to The Green Hornet’s strategic planning, but her role in the film is reasonably minimal.

Rogen is well-versed in comedic acting and just the right guy to play this role. His performance is sound from beginning to end. This is Chou’s first English feature, but he gained notice in 2006’s Curse of the Golden Flower. His martial arts abilities are invaluable and his flat English is an asset to the character; it works every time. Waltz won the Oscar for his off-kilter Nazi in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and he reprises a similar character here. However, his performances of these criminals are so good, he cannot be faulted. In addition, there is a very amusing cameo by James Franco and a slightly more depressing appearance by Edward Furlong.

The forces that converged behind the camera to make this movie are quite unexpected, but a perfect match to the material. It’s easy to forget Rogen is a screenwriter too; having written the comedy hits Superbad and Pineapple Express with partner Evan Goldberg. The pair undoubtedly outdo themselves with this script. Director Michel Gondry has made several peculiar films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind), all for which he’s also been involved in the scripting. Nonetheless, he’s proven in these projects that he has a strong sense of comedy, which he expertly applies in the more mainstream The Green Hornet.

Black Beauty is truly a work of genius – which Britt cannot operate if his life depended on it. She has a flame thrower, missiles, numerous guns and a few other surprises. It makes the Chrysler Imperial look cool. The fight sequences are enhanced by some slow motion and highlighting that identifies the enemies’ weapons, which is meant to mimic Kato’s reaction process. Additionally, the bro fight is great – it resembles comic book violence and the sound effects are entertainingly exaggerated.

One of the fantastic things about this movie is it’s not all in the trailer. The advertisements are a good sampling of what’s in the film, but there is so much more hilarity to experience. So go get stung!


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