The first time I saw Moon Child years ago, no one told me it was a comedy. The synopsis didn’t say anything and the trailer certainly didn’t provide any indication. Yet despite film’s effort to fashion itself as an action drama, I still couldn’t help but chuckle at Moon Child’s ridiculousness.
The film’s most glaring drawback was its convoluted plot. It simply aspired to be everything all at once. There were a lot of elements involved that instead of enriching the story, it sort of mangled the whole thing. Let’s see: there was the rowdy group of orphans who only had each other, ill-dressed gangsters, shootouts that would shame Spaghetti Westerns, action scenes that were badly ripped-off from The Matrix, star-crossed lovers, subtle bromance and finally, a dour vampire with enough angst to rival sparkly Edward Cullen. And have I already mentioned that the film was supposed to be set in the future?
It didn’t help that the editing was subpar. The production compromised by putting time stamps to guide the audience. But it just highlighted the script’s difficulty to get itself together. Moon Child starts in 2000 then whisked its way to 2014 then to 2025 to “a few years later”, slowed down a bit to “a few months later” before fast tracking into 2045. Poor production design – or the lack of it – drags the film even deeper into the muck. For a story set in the next century, its mise-en-scène didn’t look cyberpunk at all, or at the very least even futuristic.
Now on to the interesting part, the acting. Moon Child’s prides itself for having two of the biggest jrockers as its lead actors. HYDE plays the moody bloodsucker who developed a deep friendship with the human played by Gackt. As a stage performer, HYDE is a dynamic fireball. Yet in this film, he kinda moped his way to the film’s end credits. The fragility of someone bothered with deep guilt and uncertainly just didn’t come across. For some reason too, HYDE was deluded into thinking that the only way to show intensity was by barking his lines and knotting his forehead. Gackt, on the other hand, surprisingly fared better but only by a notch. He attacked his role of a conceited yet vulnerable man-child with obvious relish. His scenes with the token laughingstock played by Taro Yamamoto were actually amusing. As for the other actors: Wang Leehom did his best to keep a straight face while mouthing the gibberish required for his role as Gackt’s friend turned rival while Zeny Kwok’s performance as the lone female lead barely registered. Hers was a pivotal role but she didn’t live up to it.
If you have no idea who HYDE and Gackt are, STAY AWAY FROM THIS FILM. Yet if you want to indulge in gratuitous vanity shots and light homoerotic innuendos featuring good-looking guys then by all means take a chance with Moon Child. After all, isn’t that what guilty pleasures are all about?