Starring: Tseng Chang (Village Chief Tang), CoCo Lee (Tang Luhua), John Lone (Mi Jihong)
Written by: Sara Chen
IMDb ranking & story line: 6.4/10
A lovable modern twist on a Chinese fairy tale, Bamboo Shoot’s mixing of screwball kung-fu with Shakespearean themes of desire and confusion elevates this film to one with universal appeal.
Not one for love stories as such I didn’t know what to expect from this film, but this heartless soul found herself crying at the end of this beautiful, well written tale of devotion, passion and community spirit.
Not only was the story delightful, but the location shots in this untouched rural part of China were jaw droppingly breathtaking. It was a pleasure to watch the truly spectacular contrasting shots of colour, whether they were clothing or scenery, the cinematography (plus the music) are second to none.
The opening shot of John on his bicycle introduces us to this lovable yet awkward character, Mi Jihong). His story of devotion to his intended sweetheart, Tang Luhua (CoCo Lee), is so heart warming. It seems there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to make her happy and fulfill her desire to be an actress. A failed audition, he felt as much pain as she did with a humiliating rejection and thus concocts a plan to film a ‘kung-fu spectacular’ in which she is the heroine.
While viewing the film it brought home how well these people lived, a true community spirit in an area which existed quite simply. How they interacted, respected and supported each other brought home how we do not have this here in the UK, or so it feels to me – probably only displayed in times of national disaster! How we could all learn from living a more peaceful, simple life. The simplicity was represented to me on a photograph he kept of his sweetheart – just a natural beauty without the make-up.
Although this story was a romance between two characters, I actually enjoyed the performances between John and the actress who played his sister (Hong Tao) more. I thought she was an incredible actress, they seem to bounce off each other well – making believable siblings. Their heart to heart as he has nearly lost everything to make the film is moving, I believe that was my first sign of tears while watching this film.
The audition scene where they allocated roles to the villagers was hilarious, no-one moves as Mi Jihong requests only the “handsome, tall and strong” ones stay in the hero group. Then back-hands it with “some of you are shorter, ugly and mean-looking”. You have to admire the ego’s of the wannabe film-stars!
Another great moment for me is the scene where Luhua is over-acting the grief of her dead father, pummeling her fists into his body crying with despair. A shot of him groaning under the sheet was epic, as well as the sheet accidentally lifting off as a truck drives by.
The glorious mud fight scene stands out as one of the best moments for me, which ends in a plot turn with Luhua turning on Mi Jihong. My heart wept for him as he was sat in the muddy field exhausted having an ear bashing from her verbal assault.
The only scenes I didn’t ‘get’ were the flying ‘dance’ scenes (sorry they are probably called something more professional and appropriate) between Mi Jihong and Luhua, they didn’t add much more to the story for me, as you could see how devoted he was to her already. That being said, its visually and gives you a taste of John’s training from the past.
The innocence of the romance at moments had a child-like quality, his photo’s on the wall of her, him brushing her hair away from her face as the “light is perfect” plus the emotional hug rather than kiss at the end. I liked that. In fact I liked that a lot. A hug can convey so much more than a squelchy kiss.