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Fantasia 2020

[Fantasia] ‘Sheep Without a Shepherd’ review: Meet the movie that beat ‘Star Wars’

And it never looked back.

Though some of the luster has been removed in recent years, Star Wars is still a huge franchise. Each new installment is guaranteed to make loads of money and debut atop the box office. Sheep Without a Shepherd proved to be the exception to the rule. In China, the movie prevented The Rise of Skywalker from debuting at number one in its opening weekend.

So what is the movie that beat Star Wars about? Sheep Without a Shepherd is follows a movie buff named Li Weijie. His daughter and wife have killed the son of a powerful couple in self-defense. There is no way the two will be able to get away with what they have done. Weijie decides to use his love of classic movies to ensure his daughter does not get caught.

Sheep Without a Shepherd has a very interesting premise. Cat and mouse thrillers tend to be very fun by nature. This one adds a new layer. Can someone get away with murder using cinema tropes? In order for the movie to work, a huge suspension of disbelief is required from the audience. Laoorn – the mother of the murdered boy – is positioned as being a highly intelligent police investigator. Sheep Without a Shepherd forces viewers to believe a normal father can use movie knowledge to match wits with her. It is a huge leap that some will not be able – or willing – to make.

Those who are able to overlook this plot contrivance are in for a treat. As is the case in any film from this genre, Weijie is always on the verge of being caught. As should be the case, he barely manages to escape each time through a combination of wit and luck. It never gets trite and each time becomes more clever. This also provides some fun apprehension to the film.

[Fantasia] 'Sheep Without a Shepherd' review: Meet the movie that beat 'Star Wars'

This alone would not be enough to make Sheep Without a Shepherd worth watching. It touches on themes of political corruption, sexual predation, and family. The performances are incredibly strong and are the highlight of the movie. Director Sam Quah also does a great job. The film has much of the moments expected in a cover up. But Quah does a good job of infusing humor and beauty. All the while, Sheep Without a Shepherd never loses the tension that is so important in this type of movie.

Asking the audience for some suspension of disbelief is to be expected from a movie. Sheep Without a Shepherd asks to audience to forgive a big plot point in order to make it work. The premise is certainly intriguing, but believing a regular person can use their movie knowledge to outsmart an intelligent police officer is a stretch. Anyone who is willing to overlook that is in for a tense and excellent thriller.

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