Wo shi lu ren jia
- 2h 14min
A boy living in the country side dreams of becoming a movie star. His passion is so true that he decides to go to the capital of the cinema industry , Hengdian, and give himself a chance. Re... Read allA boy living in the country side dreams of becoming a movie star. His passion is so true that he decides to go to the capital of the cinema industry , Hengdian, and give himself a chance. Reality and dreams are somewhat different but he shares the same dream with a lot of people,... Read allA boy living in the country side dreams of becoming a movie star. His passion is so true that he decides to go to the capital of the cinema industry , Hengdian, and give himself a chance. Reality and dreams are somewhat different but he shares the same dream with a lot of people, therefore he is not alone. Personal lives and adventures mix up with the fiction ones on ... Read all
Yee took 2 years to research the subject matter and out of all the unbridled sharing by these "never give up "troopers comes this ode to the unsung and unseen heroes of cinema, the film extras. The location is Hengdian, a city known as China's Hollywood, which has the largest outdoor film set in China. Its output a year has reached 150 films. Every year many people from all over China will journey to this small city of dreams in the hope of making it big. The story focuses on Wan Guopeng who sets off on his journey to stardom from Snow City, the boondocks of China's outer region. He will meet many others with the same aspiring dream as his but with different degrees of success. This is the story of their trial and tribulation.
The movie is best when it hovers over this multitude of extras sharing their stories. No back stories are needed because it is the dream that defines them. The first half feels like the intersection of many lives but each of them will pursue their dream differently. There are those that work real hard hoping for the best. There are those that use the opportunity to hook wink and take advantage of others. There is one who has the physical looks but is lazy, thinking opportunities will present itself. Their acting chops vary from mediocre to average, but in terms of motivation they are in the top tier. This first hour is engrossing and authentic, truly intoxicating to watch because their energy is extremely infectious.
The second half didn't fare very well. Yee indulges us with so much melodrama and clichés that we were swimming in them. There are scenes of preachy dialogue that tries too hard to justify the extras' purpose. It is here I suddenly felt the ache in my posterior as I see many needless scenes that don't serve much purpose. All the mediocrity in their acting started to show up. It is such a shame that Yee chose to go in this direction to close up all the individuals' story threads.
IMHO the melodrama didn't sink the movie and on the whole the love letter to these unsung heroes still works very well. The mediocre acting works in a way because of their earnestness and sincerity, and it comes out feeling very authentic. This is balanced by lots of cameos by Stephen Fung, Daniel Wu, Ann Hui and Alex Fong. Anita Yuen has an extended cameo where she shares her acting journey with two aspiring actresses. But the best one belongs to Derek Yee who plays himself, directing a scene. This scene is exceptional in that it breaks the fourth wall, allowing us to be in a dramatic scene where we get to feel all the tension in getting everything right.
We always know all great actors start somewhere. Sometimes I get a hoot seeing a well known actor acting in a bit part in an early role. In China, they start at Hengdian, a magnet of a place for people who dream big dreams. The movie is very thorough in detailing all these interesting aspects of success, so much so that I find Derek Yee didn't want to cut out anything. In the end Yee almost gets it all right. Still, this one is for the film extras, who walk and act in the background, hoping that we would see them. I see them now.
- Jul 20, 2015