Director: Xin Yu-kun
Cast: Zhou Dong-yu, Song Yang, Yuan Hong
Runtime: 2 hrs 1 min
Rating: PG13 (Some Sexual References)
Released By: Clover Films and Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 7 December 2023
Synopsis: The film revolves around Chen Miao, an aspiring editor at WE Media (a social media platform), who wrote an article discussing a video in which a girl is seen to push her classmate down a set of stairs. The article triggered a widespread condemnation campaign online, which drives the apparent bully, a teenage girl, to attempt suicide by jumping off a building. When she receives a package from the girl that revealed the horrifying truth that the "bully" may actually be a victim of sexual assault, Chen becomes determined to seek justice for the girl and redeem herself, and confront the darkest chapter in her career.
We all know the dangers and pitfalls of social media, but we still dig movies that show us again and again the dire consequences of social media if netizens use it irresponsibly. The latest entry in this genre is a Mandarin thriller from China, starring the very hardworking Zhou Dongyu, who has been seen in a few titles this year, including Anthony Chen’s The Breaking Ice, Ma Yongxin Tainted Love and Liu Xiaoshi’s Born To Fly.
In this crime drama helmed by Xin Yu-kun, Zhou first appears as a rather unlikeable character who will stop at nothing to get online hits. She plays Chen Miao, the editor in chief of a social media platform and as people working in the industry will tell you, it is not an environment you can afford to be ponder over ethics if you want to get viral content out there. So when you come across an unverified video of a schoolgirl being pushed down a flight of stairs, you should put it online straightaway without fact checking the details.
And that’s what Chen Miao did. Expectedly, the netizens go wild passing unkind judgements on the supposed bully and the video is seen by countless people across the country. Unable to face the mean online remarks, the girl jumps off a building and what follows is a series of investigations by Chen Miao and her like minded compatriots to right the wrong she started.
Without saying too much, what’s going on behind the seemingly straightforward bullying case involves power exploitation and sexual assault. Yup, there is a #MeToo drama waiting to unfold in this 121 minute movie.
Zhou does a decent job of portraying a character who initially gets thumbs down for feeding off others for the sake of sensationalism, but eventually clears her conscience when things start getting awry. From there, we see Zhou playing a familiar character who is determined to hunt down the bad guys, especially the most crooked one behind the scenes who may never be caught because of his ability to manipulate resources and media. She goes all out to strategise, produce social media content, continually change tactics due to retaliation – these sequences are engaging to watch and will keep you at the edge of their seats because you don’t want the villains to win.
The main antagonist Zhou’s Chen Miao has to go against is an established company’s president played haughtily by Yuan Hong. Chen Miao’s small team, which includes characters played by Wang Hao and Shi Rui, righteously takes on a giant in this battle and you can’t help but wonder whether anyone in real life would have this level of determination. There is also a camp led by Chen Miao’s previous business partner played by Song Yang, and you hope that they will stand on the right side as things become favourable for the villains.
The story evolves and becomes somewhat melodramatic as past victims surface, so you can expect lots of shouting and crying. At the end of the day, you just want the innocent to triumph over evil.
(The ever-capbale Zhou Dongyu leads a competent ensemble cast in this engaging #MeToo drama about the pitfalls of social media)
Review by John Li