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Have a Nice Day & “Nighthawk” ( Movie Reviews)

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Have a Nice Day


Featuring the voices of Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai, Liu Jian, Yang Siming, Shi Haitao, Ma Xiaofeng, Xue Feng, Zheng Yi, Cao Kou and Zhu Hong.

Screenplay by Liu Jian.

Directed by Liu Jian.

Distributed by Memento Films International. 77 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened at the 2017 Philadelphia Film Festival.

PFF26 Best Narrative Feature Winner

I watched Have a Nice Day twice during the 2017 Philadelphia Film Festival. The first time, I admittedly nodded off (the kiss of death for a subtitled movie). I attributed my sleepiness to various factors, and vowed to see it again as my final movie of the Festival. I felt an even stronger commitment to watching it a second time after it won the title of “PFF26 Best Narrative Feature Winner.”

The movie opens with the introductory theft, setting the scene for the movie long chase – Xiao Zhang and a driver transporting a bag of money to Uncle Liu. Xiao Zhang holds the driver up at knife point and steals both the car and the money, leaving the driver on the side of the road. This opening scene and following montage is really well done. The music is hip and the animation depicting a gray, tattered Chinese fringe life is detailed.

The remaining story is told in 4 parts:

Part 1: Where the theft is reported to crime boss, Uncle Liu, and he needs to disrupt the torture of his lifelong “friend” to activate the butcher (literally, he’s a butcher by day, professional hit man by night), Skinny.

Part 2: Where Skinny tracks Xiao Zhang to the Internet Café, finds his hotel key, finds the still-open internet session and messages Xiao Zhang’s girlfriend to meet him at the hotel.

Part 3: Where Xiao Zhang returns to the hotel and finds Skinny waiting with a cleaver.  Big fight ensues.

Part 4: Where the movie culminates in a blood bath.

Obviously, this is a very simplified time line of events. There is a cast of characters, including a tech man with X-ray glasses, a couple who are somehow related to both Xiao Zhang’s girlfriend and Uncle Liu, and more of Uncle Liu’s loyal thugs. There are car chases and crazy dream montages. There is a never-ending unconscious water scene that I swear was the cause of my falling asleep during my first viewing (this is at the start of part three – you’ve been warned).

This 77-minute Chinese animated feature, directed by Liu Jian, is complex, and at times difficult to follow. I never particularly enjoyed watching Have a Nice Day, but like a fine wine, this is a movie that needs to breathe. It is best enjoyed in hindsight, when you can finally connect the dots, see how the characters are interconnected, and can relax enough to appreciate the movie’s humor, beyond the one-liner dialogue. I think I spent so much time in the theater trying to figure out the connections that I didn’t allow it to develop into a story that I cared much about while watching it. Days later, I think I need to watch it a third time.

The screening was previewed by “Nighthawk” (2016), an animated short by Špela Čadež.

We’ve all been there. It’s late at night. You are trying to drive, but you are super tired and trying to keep your focus on the road. “Nighthawk,” through the eyes of its creepy Badger main character, captures this feeling and perspective. Admittedly, it made me a little queasy and fatigued just watching it. It appears that the Badger is drunk, eating (and dropping) pears as he weaves through the story and the road. This award-winning short preceded Have a Nice Day, and I suspect, contributed to my eye fatigue for the main movie.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: November 1, 2017.


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