Starring: Pou Lok Tung, Shawn Yue Directed by: Aubrey Lam
Oh, this could have been an excellent movie, and it all started so well. But it just misses the mark for excellence due to some shortcomings in the storyline.
Hidden Track tells of Po Po (Pou Lok Tung), who after her breakup with her boyfriend, goes in search of 'their song', a hidden track on one of Jay Chou's albums. The problem is, only 500 of these limited edition albums were made in Hong Kong, so she decides to go to there in search of it. Her trip to HK leads to Yu's (Shawn Yue) second-hand CD store. However, the CD has been sold and passed on a long line of people, so she tracks down these people, only to encounter each person's different definition of love.
The overall plot, though somewhat cheesy at first lance, is actually a good one, and some good direction and camera-work reminds you of Amelie. However, what doesn't carry it well enough is the story itself. Whilst cute, there isn't enough interlinking between story lines, and many of them are too short - more flesh would have made the whole film much more powerful. And then there were the negatives: pointless animation between scenes and the pre-ending where it was inevitable, but shouldn't really have been there. Plus, I never quite understood why the film wasn't written and performed in all Cantonese or all Mandarin in conversations - Pou Lok Tung and Shawn Yue converse in Mandarin and Cantonese respectively, although Yue does speak good Mandarin. Well at least it's not all dubbed...
And whilst Pou Lok Tung was great in her role, she can't quite match the levels Audrey Tautou reached in Amelie. Nonetheless, as it is a very good effort early in her career. Shawn Yue is as magnificent as ever, as he demonstrates, no matter how quirky the role, he can pull it off brilliantly.
And for fans of Jay Chou, you'll only be disappointed as he makes a short cameo towards the end of the film. However, his repertoire as part of the score is used cleverly, particularly the hidden track, whilst the non-Jay Chou score was also very good.
But despite the all the negatives listed, I enjoyed the movie. I hesitate to say more, because it would spoil it. It is beautifully made, cleverly crafted and well executed. But I have seen better. Unfortunately, and probably quite unfairly, that's what stops me from saying it's an excellent film. However, I do admit that this is probably better than you'd get normally from HK cinema these days. It's almost as cute as Amelie, it has a decent basic storyline, and the actors and director make something of it, so I welcome anyone to give it a try and be pleasantly surprised.
One not just for the Jay Chou fans.
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