18x2 BEYOND YOUTHFUL DAYS (青春18x2通往有你的旅程) (2024)

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Michihito Fujii
Cast: Greg Hsu, Kaya Kiyohara, Joseph Chang, Shunsuke Michieda, Haru Kuroki, Yutaka Matsushige, Hitomi Kuroki
Runtime: 2 hr 4 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 10 April 2024

Synopsis: The story centres on Jimmy (Hsu), a young man in Taiwan who meets Ami (Kiyohara), a backpacker from Japan, and the two grow close during a summer working together. But as Jimmy struggles to commit to the relationship, Ami returns home. Some 18 years later, he makes the journey to Japan in a bid to see his first love again, recalling memories of those days and meeting a variety of people on his trip.

Movie Review:

From its main leads to the various picturesque backdrops, this romance drama is a very pretty movie to look at. As this reviewer witnessed the male protagonist travelling through Japan and reliving his past through flashbacks, he wished that he had a love story as bittersweet as this – until he remembered that he looks nothing like Greg Hsu.

Hsu, who is currently one of Taiwan’s most popular actors, has made hearts flutter with his roles in TV series like Someday or One Day (2019 – 2020) and movies like My Love (2021) and Marry My Dead Body (2023). The 33 year old actor has been blessed with good looks, and this is probably one huge advantage in his career. His past roles have charmed countless viewers, and his latest performance is likely to have the same effect.

Hsu plays a man named Jimmy in this movie directed by Michihito Fujii. When we first see him, he looks like someone who has achieved quite a lot in his career. He loses his cool in his office, and the next thing we know, he is embarking on a journey to Japan, complete with a backpack. It looks like one of those long soul searching trips where you will find your inner peace. In this writer’s opinion, this is something done by people who are relatively well to do and have no other obligations. But we’re watching a movie, so let’s just go along for the ride.

As the movie progresses, we get glimpses into Jimmy’s past. He was a slacker who loved playing video games and watching anime. He held a part time job in a rundown karaoke joint where he got to meet Ami, a backpacker from Japan who was travelling through Taiwan. Of course, the female protagonist has to be played by someone sweet and endearing, and the actress given this duty is Kaya Kiyohara. While we may not be familiar with her, she was the lead of One Second Ahead, One Second Behind (2023), the Japanese remake of Taiwan’s My Missing Valentine (2020).

And expectedly, Jimmy and Ami grew close to each other. There are pleasant sequences where you see the two hang out in a cinema happily, and the one that stands out sees the couple heading to a retro theatre to watch Shunji Iwai’s Love Letter (1995). There's also one encounter where the two head to Taiwan's Shifen to release sky lanterns. It’s all very lovey dovey, we all know there something isn’t right. Jimmy wanted to express his feelings to Ami, but overheard her having what seemed like an argument over the phone. Was that the boyfriend back in Japan whom she had mentioned before? Of course, Ami eventually left Taiwan, but why did she tell Jimmy to realise his dreams before they can meet again? You kinda know where this story is headed.

Throughout the flashbacks, we are also occasionally brought back to the present where Jimmy meets other travellers, including one played by Joseph Chang. The scenes that depict the present are so picture perfect (especially the ones shot in a snowy landscape), the Japanese tourism board should consider using them to attract tourists.

There is nothing extraordinary about the storytelling or acting in this 124 minute movie, but it does do a decent job of making you reminisce about the past if there were any notable episodes with your loved ones. And also, if life allows you to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle, the movie may inspire you to take a trip to find yourself.

Movie Rating:

(A postcard-perfect movie that features good-looking leads and picturesque landscapes) 

Review by John Li

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