By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Writer violently dreams his way to wealth; language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Your fate is already written. Money doesn't define who you are. In another timeline, you might live a different life. Life is like a video game.
Positive Role Models
Sang Yu seems at times hapless, self pitying and hopeless, but also controlling and egomaniacal, depending on how much he has in his bank account.
Violence & Scariness
This is extremely violent, although most of the individual acts are explained away as incidents in dreams. People are stabbed, bludgeoned, punched, thrown, kidnapped, shot, beaten, impaled, and otherwise tortured. A man suddenly winces in pain and develops a ragged, bleeding scar while he walks down the street. A man's bloody eye is shown after a beating. A woman is strangled.
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Infrequent use of "f--k," "bitch," "hell," and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and cigars, and drink alcohol, sometimes to excess.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Super Me is a time-travel, sci-fi, horror mash-up that poses the questions: What's real, in what order does time flow, and what's morality? In Chinese (with English subtitles), the film exploits expected clichés of the genres, with plenty of plot twists, but also turns the clichés sideways to pack surprise. The action is punctuated by shocking, unprovoked moments of extreme violence but, packaged in a dream framework, the recurring gore and threats feel less gory and threatening, until the plot twists again. People are stabbed, bludgeoned, pummeled, banged, punched, kidnapped, thrown, shot, beaten, impaled, and otherwise tortured. A man suddenly winces in pain and develops a ragged, bleeding scar while he simply walking down the street. Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "bitch," "hell," and "ass." Adults smoke cigars and cigarettes.
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What's the Story?
In SUPER ME, Sang Yu (Ta-Lu Wang) owes rent on his tiny room and is trying to peck out the screenplay an agent gave him an advance for. His laptop is ancient and he's so obviously hungry that the poor old local street vendor (Shih-Chieh King) gives him free food. His worst problem is that he's too sleep-deprived to write, as every night he's awakened by violent, terrifying nightmares featuring a smoky, hooded monster who buries a variety of gilded ancient weapons in Sang Yu's body. Blood flows. Sang Yu wakes up panting. No writing gets done. The street vendor offers advice, suggesting that when the dream violence feels too real, say, "I'm only dreaming" to exit the terror. The strategy works. Not only does Yang start escaping the hulking monster, but he wakes up in his bed with the monster's antique gilded weapons in hand. He sells the antiquities, gaining new ones each night, amassing a fortune. Grateful, he leaves a bag of cash for the street vendor, moves to a palatial apartment with a trove of museum-quality artifacts, and captures the heart of the girl he's worshipped from afar for years (Song Jia). Just when it seems he can keep this pattern up forever, the dream violence starts entering his waking life. His face bursts forth with bloody gashes spontaneously. He cries out while walking down the street from the pain of a flying knife from out of nowhere. Dreams and reality appear to intertwine.
Is It Any Good?
Super Me is at times fascinating, brilliant, and maddening as it exploits the rich terrain of the human dream world for cinematic exploration. But it often feels as if writer-director Zhang Chong has taken a clever fantasy past the point of his capacity to resolve the issues he raises. Unable to decide on an ending, he offers a few, dumping the poor audience into a disjointed miasma of doubt, parallel universes, and future-past-present stews.
Still, startling visuals, an immersive video game atmosphere, and a steady wash-rinse-repeat plot that's equal parts simplicity and obscurity make this a potential cult film, and certainly a good candidate for a sequel. It's just messy and vague enough to generate endless speculation among devotees, and endless rewatch parties, the way The Matrix and other dystopian essays on human greed and power-mongering have done. Viewers may still object to the muddiness of the vision as the plot progresses. The internal logic is upended over and over. Just when you think you understand the rules of this bizarre world, a plot twist contradicts the conclusion. Super Me is a bit like a philosophical amusement park ride that tries to ask some questions, but fails entirely at answering any of them.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fact that Sang Yu has no family. How do you think having no one to turn to may have led to the dire situation he finds himself in as the action begins?
The movie suggests that the bizarre occurrences Sang Yu experiences have also happened to other people. What do you think that means?
Someone accuses Sang Yu of stealing. Do you agree? Can you steal from dreams you made up? What's the movie trying to say about morality, wrong and right, and good and evil?
- In theaters: May 11, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: April 9, 2021
- Cast: Ta-Lu Wang, Song Jia, Shih-Chieh King, Kevin Lee
- Director: Zhang Chong
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Fantasy
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 19, 2023
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