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SECRET (Taiwan)

  Publicity Stills of "Secret"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

In Mandarin with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Jay Chou
Cast: Jay Chou, Kwai Lun-Mei, Anthony Wong
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Innoform Media
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 8 August 2007



Jay Chou's directorial debut. This is the first day Lun admitted to Tamkang Secondary School. When he walks through the campus with his classmates, a mysterious piano solo draws his attention. He follows the song and finds that an ethereal girl is playing piano in the old music room. The piano girl is Yu (Guey Lun-Mei), one of Lun’s classmates. The two become intimate friends and spend a lot of time together. “What’s the melody you played the first day we met?” asked Lun, “That’s my secret.” Yu whispered in his ear.

Summarize Review:

Secret marks Jay Chou’s full length film directorial debut venture and playing in his area of expertise, he has once again successfully captured the hearts of his intended audience. The strength of his debut lies in the casting, his amazing music choreography and usage of subjects that’s often broach on in his albums. His weakness was however felt on the editing and pacing of the movie as he allowed certain segments to lag unnecessarily. The main selling point of this movie, the secret was overall, a satisfying one. Even though it felt like he borrowed crucial elements from other films to create this secret, Jay Chou had successfully mould this tried and tested twist into his distinct blend of ambience and likeable style.

Movie Review:

It’s no secret that entertainment artists are always using their fame and expertise in one area to help catapult them into success in a whole different platform. It’s also no secret that most of them failed in such changeover. So far, Jay Chou’s transition from the music maestro to the movie’s actor had been respectable.

But for him to take on the role of director and coming up with the story, it’s definitely made an eye opener to see if he is able to pull it off, acting and directing at the same time with only a couple of films under his acting resume.

The short answer is yes.

First of all, Secret works mainly due to the fact that he was already on familiar terms with angst romantic issues in his songs and his popularity gives a good testament to his ability in stringing the affairs of the heart.

The next big factors would be the choice of cast. Anthony Wong who played his father in Initial D reprise his role as Jay Chou’s on screen dad again. The camaraderie that they shared previously transit well into this movie and the loveable Anthony Wong threatens to steal every scene that he appears in.

The other one would be casting of Kwai Lun Mei. Someone pointed out that the second leading actress looked more attractive but what she lacks the conventional definition of prettiness; she was able to shine with her charisma and did well to paint an aura of secrecy around her. Jay Chou did mention that he might cast her again for his future movie project and after witnessing her performance in Secret, it’s not hard to understand why Jay Chou would want to work with her again within such short time span.

The other thing that was worth sitting up for during this movie would be the onslaught of piano performances in this movie. It’s pretty much like the action sequence that you get in a Jet Li or Jackie Chan movie except Jay Chou does it with music. One notable scene occurred when Jay Chou played against a fellow classmate in a piano duel where the challenge would be to repeat the exact piece that the opponent had played. It’s just as spectacular as watching Tony Jaa doing those challenging action feats except it was on piano and more graceful.

Praises aside, Secret was not without it’s flaws and one of them is overindulgence. It’s understandable that all directors are unwilling to cut away portions of the films as it’s something that they hold so dear to but sometimes, a good director need to trim the film down so that it will be at it’s most potent format. That’s what lacking in this film and some of the messages lose their effectiveness through the slow segments and unnecessary explanations.

Other than that, it got to be the secret that the film been harboring during the first three quarters.

Kwai Lun Mei mentioned during their tour in Singapore to pay close attention to what’s happening in the first three quarters as there are hints littered everywhere, indicating what going to happen. For those frequent movie goers, it will not be hard to detect the bits that felt rather amiss. But still, the initial revelation will comes as a major jarring displacement that will likely make one wonder if the projectionist had changed the wrong reel of film. The credible part about this movie’s secret was how it was able to reconnect back to the romantic story by borrowing elements from other movies. In the end, it felt a bit far fetch but that was easily swept under the romantic notion and all the implausible conception will be quickly forgotten.

Jay Chou did mention that if the box office for Secret fails to meet a certain mark, his full length features directing career will comes to an end and will only dabbles directing small music videos in the future. Based on the reaction from the cinema audience, the massive turn out for his Secret promotion and after reviewing his movie, this reviewer finds it hard to believe that he will be constrain to Music Videos directing duties in the near future.

(Here are some spoiler contents that discuss about the “Secret” about this movie. While it doesn’t reveal the actual secret, the author recommends the reader to experience the secret first hand in the cinema first. Otherwise to reveal the secret, just scroll down the following paragraph to read)

The Secret of the film initially felt like a weird revelation that was pretty much in the “Sixth Sense” genre. It felt like someone had just pulled the mat off your feet. But sensibly and credit to be given, the film utilize the idea seen in Japanese romantic drama “Be with You” and one episode in Twilight Zone (the Convict’s Piano) that had a great idea in usage of piano beside producing music; to create a romantic ending that still relatable.

Movie Rating:

("A wonderful musical odyssey into first love, pack with an unexpected chain of events that will most likely fascinate the intended audiences”)

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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