Review: Urban Fantasy Hanson and the Beast is Men in Black meets chick flick

Millions of years ago, aliens, now known as  yaoguai or demons, landed on Earth. To blend in, they hide their animal forms by shapeshifting into humans. To make sure their secrets are hidden from the humans, the Bureau of Transformers was formed to monitor yaoguai actions in our world.     When young arctic fox demon Bai Qianchu (Liu Yifei) comes to the human world to repay an act of kindness and accidentally exposes her true form, she’s being chased after by the bureau’s agents.

Her object of interest is zookeeper and swindler Yuan Shuai (Feng Shaofeng), who saved her when he was a child.  When Bai Qianchu falls for Yuan Shuai, the two become caught at the center of a power struggle in the demon world between those who want to live apart from humans and those who want to cohabit the world with humans.

Urban fantasy film Hanson and the Beast takes the exciting concept of an alien registration agency and made a rom-com whose main feature is Liu Yifei being charming and beautiful. Luckily, it does that well enough if you like Liu Yifei.  Plus, unlike her last blockbuster,  the rest of the cast can actually act and the set-up is refreshing enough that you sit through it and enjoy Liu Yifei. A drama spinoff of the series starring Wang Ziwen and Chen He was released last week.

Liu Yifei as a fox pup

 Liu Yifei stars in one of her more perky roles here, a fox out of the forest alien despite having been on Earth for thousands of years. While some of her more crazy scenes seem a bit forced, she pulls off  the relatively one-dimensional character with enough cuteness and emotional punch to make it work. 

After his small role in Painted Skin II, Feng Shaofeng shows once more that he can pull off comedic characters well in his role as a gold-digging zookeeper who is trying to marry himself off to a rich woman.  His character probably has the most character growth in the show. Unfortunately, while he plays both the sleezy zookeeper and the romantic hero well,   I feel like the transition was not written to be believable.  Instead, Guo Jingfei’s role as a bureau worker steals the spotlight away among the male leads for me. Despite less screentime, he sells his characters’ emotional transition well also being funny.  

Overall, it’s a fun watch if you’re looking to kill time. Plus, as I repeat for the nth time,  Liu Yifei is super cute in it.

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