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Marry My Dead Body
70 people found this review helpful
Feb 10, 2023
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0

Unbelieveable!「不敢相信!」

A sincere-introspective-queer-supernatural-action-comedy movie sounds like a mishmash recipe for disaster. However, in director Cheng Wei Hao's deft hands, he is able to command these genres effortlessly. With no one genre overpowering the other, each transitioning into another seamlessly and blending beautifully. Thus, culminating into a film that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Wu Ming Han, Greg Hsu, is your typical homophobic chauvinistic CisHet male police officer who believes he is God's gift to mankind. After messing up a high speed chase with a member of a drug cartel, he is assigned the task of collecting all the debris from the car chase. He mistakenly picks up a red envelope, and a chill runs down his spine when he realizes it's an arrangement for a ghost marriage. To make matters worse his ghost spouse, Mao Bang Yu (Mao Mao), is a gay man.

Mao Mao, Austin Lin, was killed late one night in a hit and run incident. His loving and supportive Amah didn't want him to be lonely in the afterlife, hence creating the red envelope for him. After Wu Ming Han performs the marriage, Mao Mao reveals to his husband that he is unable to reincarnate until all his affairs from this life are settled. The driver from his hit and run incident was never apprehended, and he demands Wu Ming Han find the driver that killed him.

Well, what's a crime film with out its action sequences? "Marry My Dead Body" ticks off all the must haves: high speed car chase-check, stand off gun fight between police officers and the drug cartel-check, main character in a hand to hand fight sequence-check. But all these standard actions sequences have a bit of a cheeky twist, which are played for thrills as well as laughs.

Speaking of laughs, the humor of this film works on so many levels. Wu Ming Han is the straight man in both his sexuality and as well as being the comedic straight man. Forever the foil to all the shenanigans, but without him all the comedic elements would fall apart. Some of the best bits from the film are references to specific Taiwanese colloquialisms, culture, and queer culture. My personal favorite is a throw away joke when Wu Ming Han recites his badge number. The comedy in this film never talks downs to its audience by going for the easy joke.

Come for the comedy, but stay for a gut punch to the feels. Both leads go on a reluctant journey of self-reflection. Wu Ming Han to see others and a world beyond himself and Mao Mao must face the rift between him and his father. Both of their personal journeys come crashing to a head in the climactic scene between Wu Ming Han, Mao Mao, and Mao Mao's father. All three actors deliver exceptional performances, but Greg Hsu steals the spotlight with his masterful ability to swallow his sadness through forced smiles. The movie patron who sat next to me in the theater perfectly encapsulated the experience of watching this film with "I though this was a comedy..." in between heavy sobs.

Cheng Wei Hao cleverly weaves a poignant narrative of love and acceptance under the guise of a goofy odd couple trope. With an assist from two of Taiwan's rising stars, we are able to believe the growing and maturing friendship between the two leading characters. An excellent cast of supporting actors rounds out the ensemble, with Wang Man Chiao standing out as the Amah every queer person wishes was in their life. Wang Man Chiao exemplifies how beautifully ordinary it is to love your grandchild for who they are exactly as they are. By normalizing the acceptance of queer identities, this is the exact type of positive queer representation pop culture needs. "Marry My Dead Body" is the rare comedy that will make you laugh with tears in your eyes, and leaves a lasting impression as you leave the theater.

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Completed
Someday or One Day: The Movie
7 people found this review helpful
Jan 12, 2023
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0

You Have Been Weighed, You Have Been Measured, and You Have Been Found Wanting

This movie is a direct sequel to the 2019 TV series. However, by attempting to design a plot that does not require the audience to have watched the series first, it leaves the movie feeling a little flat. Ultimately, reducing the movie to a greatest hits version of the TV series. You got the longing for Li Zi Wei in Act 1, the mysterious package with the Wu Bai cassette tape and blue Sony Walkman II that sets up Act II, Huang Yu Xuan’s spirit possessing Chen Yun Ru’s body, etc. There’s even the same soundtrack cue’s from the series.

Following on the heels of a massively successful series is no easy feat, and I commend the production cast and crew for taking on the challenge. Screenwriter Hermes Lu, makes a valiant effort in attempting to recapture the mind-bending twists and turns of the series as well as tug on our heart strings as we eagerly await Li Zi Wei and Huang Yu Xuan’s happy ending. However, with a runtime of only 1hr 47min, it’s a lot of story to cram into a very short amount of time. Which results in a hasty resolution to the mobius loop paradox in Act III. With the original cut of the film being over 3 hours long, you have wonder what was left on the cutting room floor.

With that being said; if the film is available in your area, seeing this film in a movie theater is a must! Award winning sound designer, Kuo Li-Chi, weaves an audio masterpiece in simulating the sensation of traveling back in time. He interlaces the sounds of a clock ticking backwards with Wu Bai’s “Last Dance.” But not the original version of “Last Dance.” He manipulates the song by slowing down the tempo, and isolates the left and right channels to be out of sync. Giving the audience a sense of spacial dissonance. It’s an experience that can only truly be enjoyed in surround sound. Additionally, Kuo Li-Chi shared that the number of ticks of the second hand that the audience hears was carefully selected. Can you decipher its meaning?

Fans of the show who have eagerly been awaiting these long two years need no convincing to watch and root for their favorite couple. But for everyone else, I recommend you start with the series. If you are satisfied with that ending, you can stop there. If you need more, the movie will always be waiting here for you. Just as Li Zi Wei will always be waiting for his Huang Yu Xuan.

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Completed
Be with Me
1 people found this review helpful
Nov 18, 2023
Completed 3
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 7.0

A Messy Love Triangle Overpowers a Love Letter to Family, Faith, and Home.

Fu Yue, Ariel Lin, is an established art director for film. While on set of her latest project, she abruptly leaves to return to her hometown of Chaiyi. Her terminally ill father has decided to stop all treatment for his disease and remain home to live out his final days. This sudden interruption of her hectic work life offers her the opportunity to reflect not only on herself, but on her Grandfather Nikko, Vic Zhou, who was instrumental in creating the woman she is today.

Be With Me tells the semi-autobiographical and deeply personal story of legendary art director and first time director Hwarng Wern Ying’s family across three eras of Taiwan: 1940s Japanese Colonization, the 1980s Economic Boom, and Present Day. Originally conceived in 2005, this passion project of Hwarng Wern Ying took nearly twenty years to complete.

In 1940s Chaiyi, Nikko must hid the family’s beloved Xuan Tian God figurine from the Japanese Government. It’s the Kominka Movement, which sought to eradicate all Chinese and Taiwanese culture, language, and religion in Taiwan. Despite this oppression from the government, Nikko is a kind and generous man who opens a Ryokan across the street from Chaiyi’s Train Station. This is where he can offers sanctuary and respite to anyone who seeks it, regardless of age, ethnicity, or financial background.

During the 1980s economic boom, Nikko is now an affluent figure in Chaiyi who has time and money to spare. He now spend his days with his favorite grandchild, Fu Yue, and spoils her rotten. Taking her to five star restaurants with his business partners, as well as private auctions of rare Chinese antiques. These experiences taught Fu Yue to appreciate the finer things in life, as well as trained her to have a discerning eye for beautiful craftsmanship. All of these precious moments with her grandfather laid the groundwork for her future career as an art director.

In the present day, Fu Yue is a contemporary woman struggling to define who she is. Though soft spoken and quiet, she is incredibly strong willed and takes pride in her work. This inexplicably leads to heated arguments with the director and producer of her current film. Her love life is equally tumultuous; pursued by a man who loves her whom she does not love in return, whilst at the same time in love with another man with a wife and child. Mr. Yu, Ethan Juan, is a shrewd businessman who always gets what he wants, and right now he wants Fu Yue. A chance encounter drew them together, and since then Mr. Yu has been chasing Fu Yue all over Taiwan. Chun Shan, also played by Vic Zhou, is a famous architect whom Fu Yue has hired to renovate her historical home in Taipei. Throughout the design process, Chun Shan’s personality and demeanor reminds Fu Yue of her Gandfather Nikko. Before she realizes it, she has fallen in love with Chun Shan and begins a passionate affair.

To capture the essence of these three distinct eras, Hwarng Wern Ying had an ace team of award winning cinematographer and composers to bring her vision to life. Cinematographer Yu Jing Ping utilized unique framing techniques, lenses, lighting, and coloring for each era. Not only did this enhance the feeling of being transported back to a specific time in history, but also to a distinct time in cinema’s history. To round out the experience of traveling back in time, composers Lim Giong, Summer Lei, and Yang Wan Chien dug deep into the music archives to find songs and pieces critical to encapsulating the feeling of living and thriving in each time period.

Ariel Lin may get top billing as the main protagonist Fu Yue, but it’s Vic Zhou who is doing all the heavy lifting here. Not only is he playing two roles, Grandfather Nikko and Chun Shan; but he also appears in all three eras speaking three languages: Japanese, Taiwanese Hokkien, and Mandarin. Hwarng Wern Ying, wrote the dual roles specifically with Vic Zhou in mind. Although Vic Zhou is not a native speaker of Japanese or Taiwanese Hokkian he whole heartily threw himself into this production. Even though he spent months working with dialect coaches to perfect his Japanese and Taiwanese Hokkien, native speakers may be a bit distracted be his pronunciations in those scenes. Still a commendable effort nonetheless.

Originally intending to only tell a story between a granddaughter and grandfather, Hwarng Wern Ying ultimately decided to add a romantic element to make the film reach a wider audience. For that part of the script she tapped in her two college roommates: Chen Hsiao Wen and Yang Yi Chien. Unfortunately, this added drama completely distracts from this touching tribute to Hwarng Wern Ying’s grandfather and Chaiyi. The plot distinctly felt like Hwarng Wern Ying wrote all the scenes about Grandfather Nikko; Chen Hsiao Wen and Yang Yi Chien then wrote all the romantic scenes; and at no point in the process did the three come together to merge the two into one cohesive story. It was like each story line was its own car driving down a road, then you as a passenger must jump back and forth between the two cars in order to get to your destination. You may have gotten to the end, but you’re completely exhausted and question if it was worth the effort to get there.

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