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  Publicity Stills of "The Drummer"
Courtesy of Shaw & Chelsea Communications

Genre: Drama
Director: Kenneth Bi
Starring: Jaycee Chan, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Angelica Lee Sinjie, Roy Cheung, Josie Ho, Kenneth Tsang
RunTime: -
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.kenbiroli.com/drummer
Director's Blog: http://www.kenbiroli.com/blog/

Opening Day: 11 October 2007


“The Drummer” is an original and stylistic cinematic feast of sight and sound. It is the first feature film to combine an engaging character-driven story with dramatic action and the stunning art of Chinese zen drumming.

The compelling and emotional story follows Sid, a reckless youth raised in a Hong Kong triad family, who flees to Taiwan upon enraging a mob boss. Hiding out in the mountains of Taiwan, he encounters and joins a group of zen drummers whose mesmerizing art, rigorous physical training, and austere way of life eventually transform him into an extraordinary young man.

Sid's independence from the triad life is profoundly challenged, however, when a twist of fate awaits him back home in Hong Kong and forces him to choose between loyalty to his family and his new found faith in himself. . .

Movie Review:

With something as serious as film offering “The Drummer”, it can be a pity finding it sometimes hard to concentrate at the beginning knowing that the son of one of the most famous thespians of our generation is playing the titular character. Here, Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie, puts on a brave attempt to come out from under his father’s shadow – however, local audiences familiar with Jackie’s goofball antics and rubber faces may get distracted trying to look for similarities between the two.

So did this particular reviewer sidetrack a little? The answer’s yes, of course – and the verdict? Identical facial features aside (there’s no mistaking the father-son connection with nasal orifices of that size), Jaycee couldn’t be further apart from his expressions than his father. While we all know and love the latter’s exaggerated and comic expressions, the former proves slightly disconcerting with his slightly aloof, if a little bland, method of acting – which feels pretty much like a younger Jackie trying to act emo.

Jaycee plays the narrator Sid, who when the film opens finds himself in the slightly sticky situation of getting caught in the bath with Stephen Ma, a mafia head’s wife (Cheng Hei Yi). Instead of groveling like a dog, Sid insteads opts to further insult Stephen in front of his men (an action not particularly recommended under any circumstances), leading to Stephen demanding both of Sid’s hands on a platter from Sid’s father, Kwan (Tony Leung Kar Fai). Daddy plays good guy and ships Sid off to Taiwan, under the watchful eye of deputy gang leader Chiu (Roy Cheung).

Bored out of his wits in a rural Taiwanese village, Sid stumbles across a reclusive community of Zen drummers who also count practicing tai chi and martial arts as their daily pastimes. As cable TV is understandably hard to come by at the moment, Sid asks to join them and is grudgingly accepted.

Even though this is usually the spiritual turnpoint in most such movies, we see no such thing happening here. Jaycee really needs to find his feet before he can consider himself a thespian, as his rather one-dimensional caricature of a stock n’er do well may be better played by genuine badasses like Nicholas Tse or Shawn Yue with ten times more finesse. Angelica Lee plays Hong Dou, the quintessential O.S.A. (“Object of Sexual Attraction”), which Sid spends most of his time panting after but as this is just not that kind of movie, his advances are repelled with coquettish ease.

While the entire film is gorgeously shot, with detailed lensing that makes the most of the rural landscapes, there has to be some sort of unwritten rule on the “fadeout” phenomena which the producers seemed more than happy to employ as a sort of device to keep the plot running. The lushly somber, cello-dominated score also helps to add a spiritual element to the screen, which combined with the supposed mystical properties of traditional drumming techniques to produce an aesthetically-pleasing near-masterpiece. However, five minutes after stepping out of the cinema, I was hard-pressed to recall three prominent scenes in my head – it’s just that kind of movie.

Movie Rating:

(Jackie’s little boy grows up)

Review by Ninart Lui


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