Famed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” martial arts action star Michelle Yeoh dives into an absurdist wonderland in writer/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s genre-mixing, action-packed, dark sci-fi comedy that is as existential as it is wildly entertaining.
In Everything Everywhere All At Once (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 139 minutes, $42.99), now available in 4K disc format, Ms. Yeoh plays mother and wife Evelyn Wang, the matriarch of a Chinese immigrant family living in America.
She owns and manages a laundromat and lives a doldrum existence with her disillusioned husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), surly daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and deals with an elderly father Gong Gong (James Hong) who is forever disappointed by her life choices.
Facing a business-breaking IRS audit conducted by methodical inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis in her oddest yet most entertaining role), she gets an extraterrestrial call from a doppelganger husband from a branching dimension.
Named “Alpha” Waymond, he asks her to find the best version of herself and balance her life paths to save the multiverse from an evil entity consuming light and matter — her own daughter, named Jobu Tupaki.
Each decision Evelyn now makes with alternate versions of herself creates new paths as she traverses universes to confront Jobu.
Her powers, as well as others, also allow for the acquiring of new temporary skills such as mastering kung fu or professional wrestling moves.
Triggering the skill requires performing a nonsensical task such as wearing shoes on the wrong feet, stapling paper to one’s forehead, inducing paper cuts between fingers or inhaling a fly.
Imagine Terry Gilliam directing “The Matrix” to appreciate the mind-splintering craziness that occurs and gets more rapid as the film progresses.
Now add jaw-dropping, martial arts-style combat to a plot ultimately tied to a strong theme of the family looking to restore its faith in one another and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is by far one of the most creative and fun movies of the year.
4K in action: The directors and cinematographer Larkin Seiple create a sandbox worth of frame rates, visual resolutions, aspect ratios and color variations that come to life through the UHD enchantments.
Viewers should not only watch the film again to appreciate the wild subtleties of the narrative but also to see this collection of playful cinematographic choices exercised throughout.
Also, examine fine details such as when Jobu’s fingernails change color as she scraps them across an office cubicle wall or a sterile white hall adorned with marble columns and equally colorless robed minions leading Evelyn to a cosmic, swirling dark bagel with literally everything.
Additionally, and especially, admire the clarity of Evelyn getting sucked through a tunnel of universes in which she changes locations, costumes and make-up dozens of times during the zooming events.
Best extras: The directors, who also wrote the film, offer a non-stop, slightly giddy and definitive commentary track.
The self-professed maximalist filmmakers (more is better) break down the script and production at all levels starting with mentioning that the opening scene of the family tapped into the energy and chaos of “Home Alone” and “Punch Drunk Love.”
They cover the homage to martial arts films through their cinema techniques; tricks behind the on-set effects; Mr. Hong reusing pudding (spitting it back in the cup, yuck) for multiple takes; admiring the cast’s enthusiasm; the minimalist location design; working within a tight budget; and explaining the riot shield fight.
Next viewers can dive into a 40-minute production documentary showcasing how much fun the cast and crew had filming the movie while also touching on the importance of costuming and make-up collaboration with the actors (due to the enormous variations of both); storytelling; cinematography; the genre-mixing; the importance of the film colors; and distinguishing the film universes.
Viewers also get 10 minutes on the characters and an 11-minute hodgepodge on visual effects, actors’ warm-up exercises, practical stunts, an animatronic raccoon and covering the joviality on the set
The extras round out with an eight-minute gag reel and 14 minutes of deleted scenes, with director commentary, that includes some great unused fight choreography.