Cape No. 7 (2008)






THE SCOOP

Director:  Wei Te-Sheng 
Cast:  Van, Chie Tanaka, Min-Hsiung 
Plot:
  Aga, a band singer, returns to Hengchun with frustration.  Tomoko is a Japanese model assigned to organize a local warm-up band for the Japanese super star beach concert.  Together with other five ordinary Hengchun residents who were not expected to be great or anything, they formed an impossible band.


Genre: 
Comedy / Drama / Music
Awards:  -

Runtime:  129min

Rating:  NC16 for coarse language and some sexual content. 

IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)

Wei Te-Sheng’s critically-acclaimed Cape No. 7 has been selected as Taiwan’s official entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film for 2008.  Rarely have we seen such a competent box-office sensation from an island more well-known for abstract, art-house works than commercial fare. 

Although it is unlikely to be short-listed into the five final nominations, Cape No. 7 has already sent out an envelope with a message that screams: “Taiwan is now back to the forefront of Asian cinema!”  Debutant writer-director Wei emulates his fellow Asian counterpart, the Korean-born Na Hong-Jin, whose first feature, The Chaser, singularly revived a stagnant Korean film industry.


Without the sharp and comic wit of its screenplay, Cape No. 7 would not even be half as effective.  A cast of unknowns deliver the script with amazing comic timing, and for a few scenes, with a strong sense of earnestness.  Despite being greenhorns in acting, they have put up a remarkable show that is just about right in every aspect. 


The oddball characters written by Wei are vivid enough to retain the interest of most viewers; these people come from many walks of life - a postman, an entrepreneur, a traffic police etc - each of them with a past that dwells on a lost love or an unfulfilled ambition.


Within the first twenty minutes, Wei confidently characterizes these people by throwing them into various daily situations where they encounter one another, often through hilarious circumstance.  When all of them eventually meet at an audition session for a music band, there is camaraderie as well as clashes of egos.  The director makes use of such a side-splitting love-hate establishment to focus on underlying themes such as love, loss, and hope that are omnipresent in our society.

There is a beautiful yet melancholic side story of a Japanese man who parted from a Taiwanese woman he loved decades ago; he continues to write love letters to her, hoping that one day she would receive them.  This story is intertwined with the main narrative from the start, and though it seems unconnected, it becomes more significant as the film grows.  Eventually, it changes the life perspectives of two of the film’s lead characters, Tomoko and Aga. 

We may stagnate the progress of our lives at times, but as cliché as it sounds, time waits for no man.  Achieve your dreams while you still can.  These are the afterthoughts that will stay with viewers long after they have left the theaters.

GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)







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