Starring: Janice Vidal, Leon Lai, Jill Vidal, Charles Ying, Chapman To, Emily Wong
Dir: Leon Lai - 2006 - Hong Kong
There has been a small buzz in musical films recently. Sure the likes of Evita, The Producers and Chicago may be been a follow on from a century of musical cinema in the US, but in Hong Kong, musical films are a rarity. But with the success of the likes of Peter Chan's Perhaps Love, and Jacky Cheung's ultra-successful stage show, Snow.Wolf.Lake, it's no surprise that some of the others might want to step up to the challenge.
A Melody Looking is a story in which a young girl recruits two quirky sleuths, Leon (Leon Lai) and Charles (Charles Ying), to track down a girl called Janice (Janice Vidal), only to instead find Janice's twin sister Jill (Jill Vidal). It turns out that Janice is needed as she had written a song to help a ghost reincarnate herself in the next life.
Leon Lai and Mark Lui are one of the most successful recording partnerships in Hong Kong, and this film was clearly one to showcase the talent they have at their music label Amusic. From veterans Lai and Chapman To, to newcomers Janice, who was the new sensation in 2005 and followed quickly by real life twin Jill, as a video showcase, it works quite well. But sadly anyone looking for more than this, including pop fans of the artists, is going to be disappointed.
The story is particularly weak, not surprisingly, particularly as there isn't much dialogue in between each of the full length music video segments that take place in between the different scenes. In fact the music videos are the major flaw in the film. There are too many of them, and there's little interesting content in them to keep the viewer occupied. Where, usually, in a musical, each song tells a story and the visual element carries you along, the MVs in this film don't. Indeed, even as standalone music videos they look rather boring. A couple of Janice's standalone MVs on her latest album are just based on one camera moving back and forth on a track pointing at her. Rather dull.
It is a shame, though. Where there was good, it was very good. The costumes, the sets, and even some of the camera angles were gorgeous and visually grand. Unfortunately, it's just not put together well enough to make it stick.
All in all, I'm rather disappointed in this effort. For a film that reportedly cost HK$10m to make (a lot by HK standards), I doubt that it was really worth it. Perhaps next time, they could have taken some of the commercialism out of it and tried to make a real story.
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