Cape No. 7 海角7号

Director: Wei Te-Sheng

Cast: Vam Fan, Chie Tanaka, Kousuke Atari

What it’s about: A failed angry singer returns to his hometown filled with angry people, one of whom is an angry city representative who wants to have a native band open the act for a famous Japanese singer who is performing at one of their beach resorts. So the angry representative starts auditioning people for this band and ends up with an angry old man, an angry child, an angry cop and a lovesick mechanic, who is about one of the few people in the movie who isn’t angry and shouting all the time. Meanwhile, the liaison for the Japanese singer is this angry Japanese ex-model who starts out, for no reason, hating the angry failed singer but one drunken fuck later, discover that they are soul-mates. Somewhere in all this is a sub-plot of found love letters written in post-WW2 from a Japanese man to his true love whom he left behind in this small hick town. The only time it mattered in the entire plot is how the angry ex-model, waking up from her drunken one-night stand with the singer, finds the letters in his room and is so moved by them that she falls in love with the singer. I swear I did not make this whole plot line up.

Moral of the story: Shouting (alot) at people usually gets you your way. At the very least, it gets you laid and finding true love, your very own opening act to an international singing sensation and whipping a band who could not get their act together and missed their final rehearsal to sing so well when performing that the international singing sensation joins them in the opening act. Oh well, it is a movie.

So, is it any good? For a start, meaning before I popped in the DVD, I thought it must be. After all, it won 5 Golden Horse awards (Taiwan’s equivalent of Oscars), including Taiwanese Film of the Year, Best Asian Film at the prestigious Hong Kong Film Awards, and beat everything except Titanic in this history of Taiwan’s box office receipts. Plus, my colleagues from Taiwan couldn’t stop raving about it when we met for a regional meeting in April 2009.

Despite that, it took me awhile to even get this movie to watch (I missed it when it opened here) and when it was finally in the three-for-$20 bin, I decided to finally see what the hype is about. I haven’t stopped wondering yet.

If this was made in Singapore, it would have been quickly forgotten with a host of local movies such as Becoming Royston, The Days, Kallang Roar and a bunch of others that, unsurprisingly, I cannot remember. In terms of standards though, it’s pretty much on par with the forgotten Singaporean movies.

The script was so loose that a whore in Geylang would point to it and say, “Well, at least I’m not as loose as that.” It didn’t seem to matter that the dialogue felt about as real as the old Marvel Comics of the 60s. At least Stan Lee’s scripting carried a sense of wonder and excitement, even if they were as realistic as an American porn star’s boobs. And then there’s the acting.

First time director (and it shows) Wei’s casting must have basically consisted of one criteria – the ability to shout all the lines out angrily. Because, really, that’s pretty much what 90% of the actors do 90% of the time. I guess it’s hard to tell whether they are good or bad actors when all you’re really required to do is to keep one basic emotion throughout the 134 minutes, which is about 120 minutes too long.

I say that because the movie did have a decent 15 minutes towards the end, and for all it’s flaws, the final scenes where the singer asks the ex-model to stay all the way up to the point when the band finally performs were at least a decent pay-off for those who stuck through 120 minutes of painful plotting.

Not that anybody can understand how two people who hated each other guts, got drunk, held hands for five seconds and decide to jump into bed. Well, okay, maybe I can understand that but how it went from there to the love of their lifetime was even more ridiculous than how Disney princesses find their true loves.

When I finished this movie, there was only one conclusion I could reach. If this was the biggest selling film of all time in Taiwan, I should move there and start making movies.

Here’s the trailer. It’s way better than the movie, mostly ‘cos they left out all the shouting from the trailer.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51DcLjYl6Cc&feature=related


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January 2010



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