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Han Dian Chen,
You are a Scrooge if you don't step out of the cinema smiling
As a filmmaker, a sure way of winning your audiences would be to make a crowd pleaser which has the power to leave viewers smiling from ear to ear once the end credits roll. Come on, who would want to be cooped up in a depressing enclosure all day long to ponder about the unhappiness around us? Once in a while, it is healthy to go on a breezy journey where all things happy and unthreatening happen to everyone. This film does just that, and for 85 minutes, you'd be taken on a gratifyingly wondrous trip around Taipei, where you secretly wished that you are one of the protagonists, fleeting from one spot to the next without having to worry about a sad ending.
First time feature director Arvin Chen brings you a somewhat frivolous tale of an idle young man who wants to visit Paris to hunt down his girlfriend who has unfortunately dumped him recently. He needs money for the trip, so he gets involved with a mobster boss who asks him to help deliver a package. Things go haywire along the way and his goofy friend, the boss' ambitious nephew and a cute bookstore employee get entangled into the web of misadventures. Adding fun to the crowd is a gung ho plainclothes policeman, a motley crew of minions and a group of lindy hop dancers (you have to see the film to understand the importance of their roles in the story).
The first thing that grabs you is how fluffy the plot is discovering what love is all about in one night? Sure. But who are we to be cynical about the film when it nabbed the NETPAC/Asian Film Award at the recent Berlin Film Festival? Which is why we let our guards down and went along for the ride, leaving all skepticism and scorn behind us. And guess what, it isn't such a bad thing to feel light as a feather once in a while. If people want to be chirpily entertained, we are not stopping them.
Kudos also goes to the cinematography department for capturing the appeal of Taipei. The technical package is commendable, especially for a debut feature film. The warm, loving and charming, dare we say it, personalities of the city are engagingly caught on camera lens to complement the story plot.
Just when you thought the film was lightweight enough, we have equally lovable male and female leads to complete the package Jack Yao translates enough goof into charisma to appeal to the female audiences while Amber Kuo is so adoringly cute just by pushing the book cart. The best bits of the film go to Frankie Gao (more affectionately known as the Frog Prince to fans of yesteryear's Chinese pop music) as the mobster "villain". The character seems to be tailor made for the iconic pop star, and you have to experience his performance to understand what we are getting at. Elsewhere, look out for familiar faces of Taiwan cinema, including Joseph Chang (why is he sporting a strange hairdo as the plainclothes cop?), Jack Kao (a competent fatherly figure) and Tony Yang (who gets beaten up by Chang in an unintentionally rib tickling sequence).
Without giving too much away, we are guessing that ss the film's end credits roll, you may just get the urge to pick up lindy hop, and dance those worries away.
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