Since 2017 I was thrown into the world of Chinese culture thanks to a job opportunity that brought me to the country. I’ve attempted to learn the language, I actively listen to the music and as of lately, I’ve been watching the films. Here are three I’ve seen in the past 3 months that I thought were worth sharing if you too wanted to get a taste of what Chinese Cinema has to offer.
1. The Dream Factory (甲方乙方)
(1997) 90 min | Comedy
The Dream Factory is probably the most unique Chinese film I’ve seen since my introduction to the genre. At a quick glance the movie poster can mistakenly conjure images of traditional opera but this film is far from it.
A team of friends start a company serving the niche idea of impersonate and act out any character role for their dreamers (customers). For example, the film starts with an office worker who gets his dream to play out as an american military general. The team puts together elaborate scenery emulating american wartime with tanks, prop guns and hired actors to build up a military camp for the sole purpose of making this guy truly belief he is living out his dream.
The friends live off generosity and never really make any money but the amount of time and effort they put into making other people’s lives a little better, even for a short period of time, is endearing and worth suspending ones belief of how they manage such Hollywood scale execution.MY RATING: 9/10
2. Summer Holiday (夏日的麼麼茶)
(2000) 98 min | Comedy, Romance
Remember those late 90s / early 2000s Disney films like Johnny Tsunami or Brink!? This film has that same aesthetic written all over it. It’s a campy love story between a surfer dude own 1/2 a resort on a Malaysian island while the other 1/2 is owned by a “newly fired work-a-holic” who wants to sell the entire resort to get back on her feet.
The mix up of how the surfer ended up getting half the property has her scheming back and forth on how to convince the guy to give up his paradise and sell his share. Without his share, she’ll never be able to sell and… go back to HK and retire?
Obviously they end up falling in love and the twist at the end will have your rolling your eyes but if you’re looking for a date night film from yesteryear, it’s cute enough to try out.RATING: 7/10
3. Overheard (竊聽風雲)
(2009) 100 min | Crime, Thriller
I absolutely wanted to love this film as this film kicked off a series of “Overheard” films in China. It’s an interesting cast of a team of detectives that are trying to bust a stock market corruption case but due to their own personal flaws and circumstances, end up using insider knowledge from the case to become rich themselves. It’s a perfect setup and actually I enjoyed the entire film until final scene when a certain character came back from the dead with a robotic body on a suicide mission.
But oddly enough, that twist ending was so strange the film has left such an impression want everyone to endure the cringe with me. Hell you might actually like the film enough to watch the second and third film… which I plan on doing soon myself. It’s almost so bad it’s good and could possibly enter cult territory given the right audience.RATING: 5/10
I’m constantly watching old and new Chinese films and I do want to keep this a running segment. So if you liked this let me know on Twitter if you watch one of them. I’d love to talk cinema with you. — KITE0080