Lost in Thailand is an odd export, a note-for-note Chinese version of the American "mismatched buddy comedy" (road trip variant). In China, the film is notable for being the highest-grossing film in the country's history -- a surprise given the country's penchant for historical epics and martial arts movies. Sadly, although some of the film's humor seems to be lost in translation, both literal (the subtitle translation) and cultural, the real flaw is that the film also inherits the problems of the films it follows. It might be refreshing for domestic audiences, but as a foreign film for US audiences to enjoy, there's nothing other than language to set it apart from the flawed films we're making here.
Contrivance is the film's biggest issue. The plot depends on Xu being unable to reach his destination; sadly, although there are a few good natural roadblocks (Xu doesn't have the right power adapter for his laptop), the screenplay mostly just makes the characters dumber in order to slow them down. When Wang asks about Gao, Xu lies and says he slept with Gao's wife instead of explaining the contract conflict for no apparent reason, which of course leads to Wang telling Gao this information and Gao believing it (as well as absolutely refusing to listen when they try to explain for the rest of the film). Xu's demeanor toward Wang changes at the script's convenience; there are multiple "touching" scenes where Xu feels bad for yelling at Wang, only for him to resume doing it a moment later. The main obstacle is that Xu needs to know which temple the shareholder is visiting, but his secretary hasn't figured it out by the time Xu has to leave the office. Even that's a cheat: it would be more natural for him to leave with the map and end up losing it. Instead, Xu spends the whole movie trying to download a map. The most contrived moment in the film occurs when Wang and Xu have a fight on a train for no reason other than to dispose of Xu's newly-purchased SIM card, right in the middle of Xu's download.
The film's other problem is Wang himself. Although he is not quite as obnoxious as I was afraid he'd be, he is still a real nuisance, making a number of mistakes that any normal stranger would find unforgivable. Somehow, their entire partnership is based on Wang not having any money, and Xu providing it. Since Wang is profoundly unhelpful, destructive, annoying, and distracting, it makes no sense that Xu would not run for the hills. The film eventually reveals Wang's heart-tugging backstory, but it almost feels like a waste of time; clearly the film is already set on making their friendship happen. The only thing that saves this from being insufferable is the light amount of comedic and friendly chemistry that Zheng Xu and Wang Baoquiang have with one another.
The film's humor is all over the map. Physical comedy makes up most of the film, including a car chase, a fake massage, and some physical scuffles. One lengthy joke involves Wang's interest in meeting a ladyboy. Since Wang doesn't appear to understand what "ladyboy" means, the film avoids any sort of gay panic scenes, but Xu's comments about ladyboys and Thailand feel kind of like racism. Later, all three protagonists accidentally crash a drug deal, and there is the brief implication that Xu and Wang have left Gao to be murdered. These kinds of comedies are often referred to as being "rude, crude, and out-of-control." Much like the weaker American buddy comedies, Lost in Thailand represents the wrong kind of each.
The Video and Audio