People help Mr. Long because, as a little boy puts it, “he’s acts cool and doesn’t say anything.”
Mr. Long, a Taiwanese hitman, undergoes a transformation when he fails to assassinate his target in the land of the rising sun, Japan.
Perhaps a dream vacation to some – a stranger in foreign land who doesn’t know the language – is a pickle to Mr. Long due to having no money nor passport. Although he does have the comfort of a gunshot wound.
He finds refuge in an abandoned village fit for drug addicts, like the boy’s mother. This innocent child helps the quiet Mr. Long by providing him with clothes and first-aid supplies. He returns the favor with a meal and splashes some sense into his “caregiver.”
A passerby literally takes a slurp of his soup broth and steals him away to prepare dinner for the “neighbors.” These hospitable people don’t care about Mr. Long’s past because his ramen is just that good. They make his run-down home homeier and become very hands-on start-up consultants in his food cart venture. Yup, they just give him a food cart – no reason is provided as to why these good natured humans do good natured things. However, they provide moments of laughter simply with their presence as they watch Mr. Long thrive as the owner of an Instagram-worthy street food establishment.
The food cart proceeds will pay for a boat that’ll smuggle him home – no questions asked. While using his full body weight to knead the dough for his noodles he counts the days till his ship will set sail. However, as he looks at his calendar, the bond between the little boy and him would cease and is questioned
It’s hard to say what Mr. Long wants because he doesn’t show it. Only if the camera is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of joy or sadness is insight shown. This provides for great comedic moments because unexpected emotions at unexpected moments collide with the Clint Eastwood like “Man with No Name” persona Mr. Long, a pseudonym, crafts.
Like the defining characteristics of Bollywood, this “masala” movie, has bit of everything for everyone. If a pot containing the violence of Oldboy, the food happiness of Chef, the hardships from drug addiction of Trainspotting, and the bond between father and son of Big Daddy were simmered together – Mr. Long would be the name of the dish. However, unlike movies that are direct copies, looking at you Armageddon and Deep Impact, Mr. Long has it’s own identity. With a pace fit for those that know patience is a virtue, it’s slowness is a pillar of what the film sets out to invoke.
This methodical pacing isn’t for everyone, but it is a trait this story relies on. Other notable traits include a score that’s dynamic as it changes with the plot’s mood. Stellar performances from Chang Chen as the titular role and Yi Ti Yao as the drugged up mother. This movie can be a great entry into the offerings of both indie movies and foreign cinema.
Mr. Long isn’t available to view on streaming services just yet. I was lucky enough to catch it during the Tribeca Film Festival. Keep an eye out if it sounds like your cup of noodles. I’ll update with a link if one becomes available.