films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Westgate Tango

Xi Men Ding
2012 / 111m - Taiwan
Comedy, Romance
Westgate Tango poster

Even though 2011 was a stellar year for Taiwanese cinema (Xiao Shi Da Kan, Hetun, Xing Kong, Make Up), 2012 didn't really deliver. While the potential is still there, a lot of the recent Taiwanese films seem to have traded some of their artistic value for more commercial appeal. Taiwanese cinema changed a lot the past couple of years (from the slow, pondering works of Hsiao-hsien Hou and Ming-liang Tsai to the more modern-Chinese inspired films of today) but not all that change is for the better.

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Not to say that Xi Men Ding is a bad film. Wang Wei's first has quite a few stand-out scenes, moments of wonder that betray a deeper love for the medium. But whenever things get serious and I started to fall in love with the film, there's always a cheesy pop song to break the mood or an impatient cut to the next scene. Wei just doesn't allow the film to breath, which just doesn't bode well for the lingering romance that runs at the core of the film.

Visually there is plenty to admire. Superb use of lighting and a magnificent sense of color. The soundtrack is a downer though, so are the actors, who seem like they'd be more at home in a local soap opera. Especially when seeing them perform next to Anthony Wong (who has a couple of scenes) the difference in quality is painfully notable. The romance is fresh and playful and Wei does his best to keep the charm going, but his cast and the pacing just aren't up to the job. Underneath some superficial touches, Xi Men Ding hides a very good film, sadly it never manages to break itself free from its commercial reigns.

I guess this review houses more negativity than the film actually deserves, but it's disappointing to see a perfectly solid gem given a treatment like this. Xi Men Ding is still worth seeing for a nice selection of stand-out moments though.

Yes, I Do!

Wo De Nu You Shi Ji Qi Ren
2020 / 111m - China
Comedy, Romance
Yes, I Do! poster

Decent Chinese romcom with some sci-fi elements that add a little twist. Then again, it's probably not much of a twist for people who are familiar with anime, as there are plenty of series that relied on the "robot girl becomes romantic interest" story before. This is simply a Chinese live-action blockbuster version.

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Fang Yuan is a lonely tour guide who can't get a break in life. When his latest romantic interest turns him down, another girl hugs him out of the blue and asks him to pretend to be her girlfriend. After this fateful encounter, the two decide to spend the evening together, as they're both celebrating their birthday. At the end of the evening though, the girl disappears in thin air.

The mix of genres works quite well, the cinematography looks polished and the pacing is pretty decent. The problem is that it all feels very derivative. China moved a little too fast from having no blockbuster industry to having a dominant one that relies on formulaic output. Not a terrible film, just not very memorable either.

Kungfu Boys

Long Quan Xiao Zi
2016 / 98m - China
Kungfu Boys poster