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Starring: Fann Wong, Maggie Q, Philippe Brenninkmeyer, Daniel Morgenroth, Amy Cheng, Jason Chan, Zhu Houren, Jin Ying Ji, Cheng Pei Pei
Director: Marco Serafini
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2005




- Making of




Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 4x3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 3 hrs
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




The House of Harmony is a lavish adaptation of Barbara Woods' best selling novel, set in the 1920s and 1950s between Singapore and Los Angeles. This is a bittersweet story that spans over three decades and two generations of love lost and found. The courageous heroines triumph over aged old traditions, racial prejudices and families' rejection and sacrifice everything to be with the men they love. Their turbulent love stories, ignites revenge, anger and betrayal until the sizzling climax when family secrets are revealed and relationships tested. Will the heroines finally be reunited with the men they love and true love triumph?


More often than not, when novels are adapted into features, the results are disastrous. When the story deals with epic themes which span over two generations, there is definitely a certain level of difficulty of doing it right. Unfortunately, this German-Singapore co-production of Barbara Woods’ best-selling novel adaptation of the same name does not fare too well with us too. Everything in it seems so wrong, it is going to be hard finding something to like about it.

Set in the 1920s and 1950s between Singapore and Los Angeles, the story begins with a certain Singaporean pianist (played by the luminous Fann Wong), who goes against traditional Asian values, follows her dreams and falls in love with a foreigner.

Like a true love tragedy, the happy couple does not live happily ever after. They bear a daughter who grows up (and played by the stunningly beautiful Maggie Q), only to follow her mother’s footsteps.

The synopsis may sound good on paper, but it is a real feat trying to adapt it for the screen. First, any decent couch potato will be able to expect what happens next as the plot develops. Next, running at 180 minutes over two consecutive parts, the viewing process may be exhausting to some. Hence, watching this feature is just like trying to bear a very lengthy long running series on your television screen.

The next fatal flaw is the feature’s audio dubbing. All the Caucasians speak in perfect Mandarin, which is very cringing to hear. It feels like watching some late night repeats on a boring weekday.

Sadly, like most features nowadays, filmmakers try to hide their fatal flaws with pretty visuals and nice-looking cast.

The production value for this feature is high, with some lavish cinematography and creative camera shots. The string score is also apt, though over dramatized at times.

The cast delivers television drama performances, which we do not blame, given the feature’s nature. The first third is a bit difficult to sit through, unfortunately caused by Fann Wong’s portrayal of the stereotypical suffering maiden. When it comes to Maggie Q’s segment, the pace picks up and the feature becomes a tad more bearable. Other familiar faces like Amy Cheng, Jason Chan, Zhu Houren and Jin Ying Ji make the viewing experience more interesting.
If you really had to watch this, do split it up into episodes ala a television drama series. Watch them over a few days if you can. This will make you diss this unnecessary novel adaptation a little less.


The visual transfer justifies the eye-pleasing cinematography, but somehow feels like what you always see on television. There are audio options of Chinese Dolby 2.0 and Chinese Dolby 5.1, which cannot salvage the bad dubbing of the feature.


There is a 24-minute “Making Of” documentary on this two-part tele-movie. It features interviews with the various personnel involved with the project. You know this spot is obviously produced locally when it focuses on the fact that the feature is filmed entirely in Singapore, and interviewees include local producers and representatives from the Media Development Authority.



Review by John Li



Other titles from Comstar:

. Russian Dolls

. Beyond The Sea

. Kursk

. Voice

. The Last Communist

. Jasmine Women

. Running Wild

. You are my Sunshine

. My Girl & I

. Half Light

. Mur (The Wall)

. Mrs Henderson Presents

. Hidden

. The Descent

. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

. A Season for Love

. Horror Theater Series 2

. Horror Theater Series I

. Capturing the Friedmans

. The Wig

. A Wicked Tale

. As It Is In Heaven

. When I Turned 9



This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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