Main cast: Jin Jia (Qiao Jianghe), Jiang Yixuan (Qiao Sihan), Edward Gerard (Dr Victor), and Zina Blahusova (Allie)
Director: Channel Choi
I confess that I stopped following Chinese cinema ages ago, mainly because the quality of the bulk of the movies out there is approximately Syfy-tier, which won’t be so bad if there weren’t the added insult of having to pay top cinema price to watch those things. Khepri Cockroach Tide is something I stumbled upon by chance on the Youku streaming service. The initial fifteen minutes or so have me thinking that maybe this would be a campy fun bad movie, and honestly, Jin Jia being a leading man that is easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt either.
Sadly, I am so wrong.
The KHEPRI in the title refers to the robotic cockroaches designed by Dr Victor as the solution to the garbage problem in the world. He conducts his research in a tightly guarded ship, with a crew that includes our hero, Qiao Jianghe. Jianghe is too cool for rules, as evidenced by him being the only Chinese among the cast sporting a stubble, but he’s also quick with this brain, as evidenced when he manages to guide the ship from colliding with an “iceberg” of trash in the ocean early in the story. The fun starts when Dr Victor’s assistant, Allie, reveals herself to be a spy of “Country M”, wherever that is, and sabotages the AI before her plan succeeds too well and she gets killed by the cockroaches. Yes, the cockroaches are now loose and they are now on a trash disposal mission, only this time the humans are the trash.
This one has some pretty bad CGI, but I sort of know what I am getting when I sit down to watch this thing, so I’m not too taken aback by how bad it is. Yes, it is bad.
My issue with this movie isn’t the CGI, it’s how the plot devolves quickly into capable men having to cater to whims of emotional, stupid female characters here that more often than not see these men having to hobble to save and protect them, even getting killed as a result.
Oh no, that moron girl needs to run back to the swarm of cockroaches to retrieve her mobile! Oh no, that other imbecile woman sees some necklace under some shelf when they are swarmed by cockroaches, and she naturally has to reach for it, and gets her arm crushed as a result. And so forth; these women are utter imbeciles, the very definition of disastrous liability as able, capable men die trying to rescue them from their calamitous stupidity each time.
Even Jianghe is dragged into the mess, as his daughter insists on having screaming matches with him about what a deadbeat dad he is… when they should be working together to survive this disaster.
The women in this movie have no survival instincts, they get distracted by petty nonsense when they should be trying to survive, and they don’t even thank the men that manage to survive the effort of rescuing them. These wretches are the worst and should have been tossed overboard at the earliest opportunity.
Now, Chinese cinema is not exactly the most progressive when it comes to portraying female characters, but this one is pretty cringe-filled in how it openly uses its female characters as monstrously stupid, disaster-prone plot devices to get everyone around them killed. As a result, what could have been a campy schlock ends up making a case that maybe sailors in the old days were right in not wanting women to board their ships. They said it was bad luck to do so. Oh boy, Khepri Cockroach Tide sure proves them right. The cockroaches may want to kill them all, but the women would finish the job for these creatures.