Yan Zilang is an internationally acclaimed conductor working in the United States. After his former teacher inherits a group of problem students, Zilang returns to Hong Kong to assist with ...
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Yan Zilang is an internationally acclaimed conductor working in the United States. After his former teacher inherits a group of problem students, Zilang returns to Hong Kong to assist with training them. Although it won't be an easy task, Zilang is prepared to do everything he can to help the kids find their voices.
Conductor Andy Lau teaches a choir in saccharine drama.
Andy Lau has played all sorts of characters throughout his career. So why not an orchestra conductor? He's supposed to be an inspiring teacher, anyway, leaving his position and global recognition in the U.S. to return to Hong Kong to whip a local choir into shape.
He starts by getting them to wash the classroom. They have to cross the athletic field with their legs tied together to strengthen the sense of unity. And so on. The boys and girls in the choir are mostly teenagers conveniently given single personality traits (the autist, the rich kid, the worthless bum, etc.) to make us see their development in vignettes progressing through the movie.
In short, Lau does what Mr. Miyagi did to teach the Karate Kid. Or what Robin Williams did in "Dead Poets Society". Or Richard Dreyfuss in "Mr. Holland's Opus". All these films are manipulative in their own way, but his one oversells it, at times feeling disturbingly artificial. It sounds as if the actors get their lines directly from Xi Jinping and the rest of the party. (It didn't help that I saw the Mandarin version, where people always sound as if they're reading from the phone directory anyway.)
The director, Adrian Kwan, made "Little Big Master" (2015) about teachers trying to save a kindergarten from bankruptcy. This is essentially the same movie with a choir instead. Kwan's first exercise in melodrama had real emotional impact, however, while this one is nothing but sugary sweet and far removed from the realities of life.
Andy Lau might inspire some attention with his star qualities as a formal and educated conductor. But that's all.
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