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Director Stephen Chow's fantasy "The Mermaid," a raging hit in his home country of China, is one of the loopiest movies ever made, managing to be borderline unwatchable and weirdly enchanting.

When industrialist Liu Xuan (Chao Deng), China's answer to Tony Stark, plots to use sonar devices to drive the sea life from a protected cove he wants to develop, the mermaids living there plot to assassinate him.

They send the beautiful and innocent Shan (newcomer Jelly Lin), who can nearly pass as a human, to seduce Liu and kill him — but when they fall in love, the plot changes. Each has to contend with lethal allies: Liu's jealous and sexy business partner Ruo-Lan (Zhang Yu Qi) aims to destroy Shan, while Shan's uncle Octopus (Taiwanese pop star Show Lo) goes to great lengths to carry out the hit on Liu.

Chow ("Kung Fu Hustle") tosses a fruit salad of slapstick stunts, clownish characters, computer-animated effects, romance, a musical number, off-putting violence and a strong environmental message.

The results are bizarre and sometimes hard to take. But there's a strange charm to it all, thanks in large part to Jelly Lin's starmaking debut.

'The Mermaid'

Opening Friday, March 4, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for some violence; in Mandarin, with subtitles; 94 minutes.