I was supposed to create a year-end post of all the Asian movies that I watched this year but I realized that it might actually be already 2016 and I still won’t be able to finish this post haha! (I have watched 46 this year alone and counting).
Most people are into Asian dramas more than their films but there are times that I prefer the latter because it does not take so much time compared to the former. It would also be a waste if I just keep watching them and not write reviews about it. Thus, the birth of this segment!
In this first #MovieMonday, I’ll be reviewing five movies (3 Taiwanese and 2 Chinese) which deals with the theme: “Firsts”. Go read more to find out!
I will be dividing it into parts so that it’ll be easier for you and me. First is the story in a nutshell (no spoilers, I promise!), why watch it, and my ratings together with other critics (if available).
Just in case you’re wondering why the titles are in hyperlinks, it’s because I placed the link of the trailer with English subtitles in it.
To start off this film review round-up, I will first talk about the first movie I watched this year which also happens to be my first Taiwanese movie.
STARRY STARRY NIGHT (2011, Taiwan-China)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama
In a nutshell: All about first/young love and all the fun and adventurous things you’re willing to do just for the sake of love! But how long will it last? Love is like a jigsaw puzzle which can’t be completed unless someone has the last missing piece in order to complete the picture or in the case of love, someone to complete you.
Why Watch It: This film basically introduced me to how Taiwan does their movies. I have long been acquainted with their dramas but seeing how they create films was a breath of fresh air for me. So if you’re like me who’s interested to see how they make movies, then go see this! It was also a visual feast because of the excellent cinematography. Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night is one of my all-time favorite paintings so it was also a treat for me that this certain painting was very important to the story.
Ratings: IMDb gave it a rating of 6.5/10 while Rotten Tomatoes gave it 55%. I’m pretty much very easy to please and I gave this 9/10. I loved how the young leads acted here and all the visual prettiness as well. The high rating also came from the ending, I believe it had a very beautiful and appropriate ending to the story.
SO YOUNG (2013, China)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Friendship, Youth
In a nutshell: You might think Maggie Jiang from my beloved “My Best Ex-Boyfriend” is paired up with either Han Geng or Mark Chao here but she has a different story to tell here which turned out to be very unexpected for me. Anyway, I just felt like talking about my dear Maggie haha! The story was focused on the cast’s youth or during their college days giving only a small portion of the film to the time when they all have become adults already. It had dashes of angst and nostalgia from here and there, which is quite typical now in both the Taiwanese and Chinese film industry so it wasn’t totally surprising as it has become a trend.
Why Watch It: One of China’s top-grossing films in a short span of time and also this success was the directorial debut of Vicki Zhao/Zhao Wei (one of China’s top actresses that I love). There were times when random story lines would enter and you’d get confused about them but what was beautiful here was the fact that everything eventually made sense in the end. The acting was good especially Mark Chao’s and his role here became my favorite given that I’ve already watched some of his other works.
Rating: IMDb gave it a rating of 6.4/10 while I gave it a rating of 8.5/10. The movie could be dragging so I don’t think I would rewatch it ever again. In addition, I wouldn’t think that this would be that much of a huge box-office success if it weren’t for the fact that it was Zhao Wei’s directorial debut. However, I’m still happy that I was able to watch it because it was still well-crafted. I really have to say that China’s really good at producing movies that more people should take notice of (these statements can also be the reasons why you should watch it!).
UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE (2010, China)
Genre: Romance, Youth, Drama
In a nutshell: A young forbidden love starts during China’s Cultural Revolution. It was all about innocent love but loving each other despite their background differences.
Why Watch It: This tackled the idea of first love and it’s probably the nth movie about it but this movie brought something new to the table. It was set in China’s Cultural Revolution, a time when their country recognized Mao Zedong as their highest leader. I wasn’t really familiar with their country’s history but I still ended up appreciating this film. If you’re a weirdo like me who loves tear-jerkers, then this film is also for you! Okay, I won’t say anything else because the previous statement is already a make-or-break decision for you if you still want to check it out.
Rating: IMDb gave it a rating of 7.1/10 while I gave it a rating of 9/10. I have this tendency to give high ratings to movies that make me cry especially when the story’s well-developed. The film moved a bit slowly that I was actually wondering what could happen given its very slow pace but thinking about it now, I guess the slow pacing was also very essential to the development of the story.
YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE (2011, Taiwan)
Genre: Youth, Romance, Comedy, Friendship, Nostalgia, Drama
In a nutshell: A group of friends having a crush on the same girl, Shen Jiayi (played by Michelle Chen). Her character here is the complete package, pretty and the star student as well. She was assigned to discipline Kai Ko’s character here and so they became good friends. Many years after, are they still the same or maybe their feelings have?
Why Watch It: “BIGGEST EVER OPENING DAY AND WEEKEND BOX OFFICE FOR A TAIWANESE FILM!” I don’t know about you but this would have already made me watch the film right away! It catapulted Kai Ko to stardom in just one night and he definitely deserved it. The elements of comedy were a bit of childish (for young boys especially) and raunchy but I still enjoyed it. Loved the ending as well because it felt closer to reality though the way they did it would also be ridiculous if it really happened in real life (lol). This was also semi-autobiographical from Taiwan’s best-selling writer Giddens K0 so knowing that the story was based on someone’s life is already worth watching.
Rating: IMDb gave it a 7.7/10 while Rotten Tomatoes gave it a whopping 84%! These two rating systems rarely give high ratings so it’s already a big achievement for this film to receive high approval scores from these two. I gave this a rating of 9/10 because I’m a sucker for youth/nostalgic-themed dramas and movies and this is one of the greatest examples of it. This is often compared to my last entry for today’s post which got a higher score for me so see it below!
OUR TIMES (2015, Taiwan)
Genre: Youth, Romance, Comedy, Friendship, Nostalgia, Drama
In a nutshell: An ugly duckling having a crush on the campus heartthrob befriends the resident bad boy who happens to have a crush on the female version of their campus heartthrob. Really loads of laughter and tears here!
Why Watch It: It was the directorial debut of Frankie Chen/Chen Yu Shan, one of the people behind Taiwan and China’s most successful dramas . And when I say most successful, it’s Taiwan’s #1 “Fated to Love You” and #2 “Autumn’s Concerto” just to name a few. When I told this fact to my sister, she said she was already SOLD! HAHA. People often say that this is the female version to the male version found in “You Are the Apple of My Eye” and maybe this is why I prefer this more. It actually reminded me of Thailand’s sleeper hit “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (also a 10/10 for me) more than “Apple”. I’m a crazy fangirl myself so watching a female lead who’s also one was just beyond relatable and funny! It was also so refreshing to see Taiwan’s young talents deliver so well in this movie. I’m pretty sure that they have a bright future ahead of them in the industry because of their spectacular performances here. I couldn’t imagine anyone else portraying Vivian Sung’s Lin Zheng Xin and Darren Wang’s Xu Taiyu because they really owned their roles. The same thing could be said to Jerry Yan and Joe Chen here, I’m so glad that they were willing to appear in this movie because I felt that their roles were created for them as well and no other actors could portray their roles so perfectly.
Rating: IMDb gave it a rating of 7.7/10.Did they really have to make the same rating with “You Are the Apple of My Eye”?? Oh well, but only this movie got a perfect 10 for me in today’s #MovieMonday. Although there was a point in the movie that I didn’t get what was happening and my overall rating was supposed to be around a score of 8 to 9 until the film has successfully delivered the whole story near the end and cleared all my doubts about it. To show how much I love this film, I already pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition of the DVD… Needless to say, I have watched the movie’s ending more than I should have (never-ending feels!). Did you also notice how long I wrote the reasons for watching it compared to the other films here?? LOL.
So how are you liking #MovieMonday so far? If you have watched any of these films, I’d love to read your insights about them here as well! Also, if you’re interested to watch them, just tell me and I’ll find a way to help you locate good sites for watching/downloading 😀
See you in the next #MovieMonday or if not, I can also write a #FilmFriday whichever works for my schedule 😉