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Big Shot's Funeral

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Apr 15, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

World famous film director Don Tyler is surrounded by hundreds of costumed extras in China's fantastic Forbidden City when a creative drought hits and he has no idea where to the camera. Tossed off the picture by his studio boss, Tyler's depression is only relieved by his unlikely friendship with down-on-his-luck cameraman YoYo.

Knowing he's not well, Tyler asks his friend to plan a "comedy funeral" for him where people leave feeling happy, as they do at Chinese funerals of the elderly. When Tyler eventually falls into a coma, YoYo begins the task of granting Tyler's last wish.

However, when the costs of his spectacular funeral spin wildly out of control, can YoYo hold it all together by selling prime ad space at this unique event to be televised around the world? And more importantly for YoYo, can he convince Tyler's lovely assistant Lucy that he isn't just selling Tyler out to the highest bidder?

That's the world of BIG SHOT'S FUNERAL: a zany, satiric comedy capturing the dizzy excitement and whirlwind change of modern-day China.


Eastern religion collides with Western capitalism in Big Shot's Funeral, a satirical comedy about a cameraman named Yoyo (Ge You) hired to shoot a making-of documentary about a world-famous director (Donald Sutherland), who's creating a sequel to Bertolucci's The Last Emperor. When the director has a stroke and goes into a coma, the director's assistant Lucy (Rosamund Kwan) commissions Yoyo to organize the director's funeral. At a loss, Yoyo asks for help from a friend who promotes concerts--and before long the funeral has turned into a vast media spectacle with product placement running amok, so absurd that when the director recovers, he refuses to let Lucy stop the funeral because he's so enchanted. Big Shot's Funeral entertainingly mixes sweetness and dark humor as it interlaces a romance between Yoyo and Lucy with the escalating madness of the funeral. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Kwan, Paul Mazursky, You Ge, Da Ying
  • Directors: Xiaogang Feng
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2003
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008HCCI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,671 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Big Shot's Funeral" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
To all of you with an interest in good movies and the Mandarin dialect, checking your local Blockbuster to see if they have a copy of the recently released "Big Shot's Funeral" would be well worth your time and dime (but since you're already on this website... why not just buy one). With Donald Sutherland as the American "name" actor and Ge You as the big Chinese name, it's a really well-executed movie that plays out in about 1/4 English and the rest Mandarin.

The very up-to-the-minute story, set in Beijing, is beautifully filmed and puts a premium on satire that takes jabs at the American movie industry and burgeoning Chinese market economies alike. For those working on their language, there is more than enough vocab and a range of accents to make this a semester's worth of lessons ... some of it literally so, as an ABC character has to occasionally check with the locals on some current slang. It's scary how inpenetrable the "Beijingr" accent can be at times. Written and delivered with a humor and timing that should appeal to Western audiences and filmed in a somewhat Altman-esque fashion, it's a really refreshing departure from the historical costume melodramas that leave you wiped out and wondering if the mainland is capable of productions as contemporary and uplifting as they often are well-crafted and dour. This would show the answer to be - most definitely!
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Format: DVD
Donald Sutherland plays Tyler, a world-famous director (or has he only convinced the Chinese that he is?) shooting a film about the Last Emperor in the Imperial Palace in Beijing. As he ponders his auteurish genius, and disappears into deep reflection while hundreds of costumed extras wait in the sun, his American and Japanese backers bite nails as they watch the dollars slip away.
His beautiful and devoted assistant, Rosamund Kwan as the ABC (American Born Chinese) Lucy, hires a local cameraman YoYo (Ge You) to shoot a making-of documentary, following Tyler about as a silent fly-on-the-wall. Despite YoYo's lack of English and Tyler's lack of Chinese, they bond and Tyler becomes enthused with YoYo's description of the funeral of an old person, happiness that he has lived a long and full life, what Tyler dubs a "comedy funeral".
Afraid that Tyler has lost the ability to complete the project, the backers send studio boss Tony (Paul Mazursky) to fire Tyler, and when Tyler has YoYo set the camera on a tripod to film the two of them together he has (or only seems to have?) a stroke or heart attack, managing to squeeze out to YoYo as he collapses (on camera, of course) "Comedy funeral, you must give me comedy funeral".
As Tyler lies near death in the hospital, Lucy fights with the studio to honor his last wishes, and have YoYo produce the funeral. Out of his league .. how could he possibly suitably honor such a Big Shot .. YoYo seeks an old friend, Ying Da as a bleach-blond concert promoter. Their schemes become more and more grandiose, and will take place in the Imperial Palace itself. YoYo hesitantly brings up the subject of money with Lucy, and finds out that Tyler was flat broke. The concert .. excuse me, funeral .. will have to fund itself.
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Format: DVD
Donald Sutherland is Tailor, the "Big Shot" of this film, a world-famous director who came to shoot a remake of "Last Emperor" in China, among other thing. But no longer is he enthusiastic about this job, quite understandably, so he decides to bail out after the heated arguement with the producer Tommy (Paul Mazursky).
At the same time, unemployed cameraman Yoyo (Ge You, award-winniing actor in Canne with "To Live") is hired by Tailor's assistant Lucy (Rosamund Kwan). He is required to make a documentary about the film Tailor is making, but as Yoyo becomes a friend to this great director whose health seems deteriorated, this "Big Shot" asks Yoyo to do one thing for him -- after he is dead, to give a funeral for him ... in the "Chinese" way.
The film directed by mainland China's hitmaker Feng Xiaogang (who also wrote the script) may seem strange to Western aduiences. But he is clearly making his point, and when Tailor falls seriously ill, and the funeral (but he is not dead!) is planned, sponsored, and promoted by money-grubbing people, the film shows it in most outrageous way, with production placement (all around the coffin, and the body too) and the showy stage plan that might easily equal the rock band concert. These satires reflect today's China, and if you think the film lacks Westen-style sophisticated development of story, never mind. Aceept it as it is, because, as it is reported, the film was the big hit in China, and clearly they saw something immediate in the film. I for one, a Japanese, find it pretty amusing.
As a sub-plot, there is a romance between Yoyo and Lucy, one speaks only Chinese, and the other fluent English. It seems Lucy's character is set as American-born, and but probably you should not see this film as culture-clashing comedy/drama.
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Format: DVD
What begins as a questionable film becomes an amusing story with hilarious notions. Auteur filmmaker Tyler of the USA lays dying in China while his new best friend YoYo, a cameraman with auteur tendencies becomes determined to fulfill Tyler's final wish of a grand comedy funeral. If you've ever made a film on a shoestring budget, you get "it" while watching this DVD and if you've illegally burned the DVD you're watching, you must destroy it after viewing or suffer the guilt of stealing from the filmmakers. As a viewer who is constantly aware of product placement, this film is like a smorgasbord of products thrown on the screen in a most absurd fashion. As a student of philosophy, I enjoyed hearing beliefs which were thrown on the screen in a most absurd fashion. As a devotee of romance, a budding love was thrown on the screen in an even more absurd fashion with no apparent chemistry between the two parties. Nevertheless, this film provided a laminate which actually works and provided laughs along the way, and I mean robust roars, not the more common little giggles. Paul Mazursky, in his documentary, YIPPEE, says, "I am a famous movie director." Mazursky's role in BIG SHOT'S FUNERAL is perfectly cast and worth the price of admission. Donald Sutherland as Tyler is perfectly played, a man of few words, grand ideas, and a receptive but forceful personality. I think only Peter Sellers could have been cast as successfully in the role, had he lived beyond 1980. Actually, an aside is that Sellers had, "In the Mood," played at his own funeral. BIG SHOT'S FUNERAL was like jumping from 1970 to 2001 and skipping all the years between. It's a film that makes you think and reflect upon the auteurs who have come and gone, leaving behind celluloid that's been the foundation for today's film students. It helps us remember that reality television was not born of an immaculate conception.
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