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CAPE NO. 7 (Hai jiao qi hao) (Taiwan)

  Publicity Stills of
"Cape No. 7"
(Courtesy of Festive Films)

Director: Wei Te-sheng
Cast: Van Fan, Chie Tanaka, Min-Hsiung, Ma Nien-Hsien, Ying Wei-Min, Shino Lin
RunTime: 2 hrs 9 mins
Released By: Festive Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://cape7.pixnet.net/blog




Opening Day: 27 November 2008


Aga left Hengchun for Taipei in the hope of becoming the singer in a band. After ten years of hard work, he returns home, his dream unfulfilled, and soon gets a job at the local post office. Tomoko is a Japanese model going down in popularity who is just asked to put together a local warm-up band for an upcoming Japanese super star beach concert to be held in Hengchun. However, recruiting the band members proves to be difficult a task as the search for the famous seven samurai. Still, seven ordinary Hengchun residents end up forming the band.

One day, Aga receives a parcel from Japan not meant for him – in fact, it was to have been delivered at Cape No.7., an address that doesn’t exist anymore… But even though he cannot find the address, Aga doesn’t return the parcel to Japan. Rather, he opens it to find love letters written some 60 years ago by a Japanese teacher and addressed to a Taiwanese girl he was deeply in love with, but had to leave behind Taiwan.

During the process of putting the band together, Aga and Tomoko are constantly at odds with each other, but thanks to the love letters, their conflict-ridden relationship slowly turns into love.

And even though they eventually find the lady the parcel was meant for, it seems that Aga and Tomoko are destined to follow the same footsteps as the girl and the teacher in their own love story… Tomoko must now decide whether she will stay together with Aga or go back to Japan alone

Movie Review:

You know whether a film’s got heart when you watch it. You know whether the filmmakers have injected their hearts into the film when you watch it. And your heart knows the answer to this when a film so deeply moving touches you in ways you never would have imagined. Sure, you may have read about all the promotional campaigns in the media about this Taiwanese film (the most outrageous one being the leading actor going for a skinny dip in the ocean after the film reported success at the local box office), but it is a film you have to experience yourself to understand how it managed to touch so many people’s hearts in this bafflingly perplexing times we live in.

Written and directed by up and coming filmmaker Wei Te-sheng, the well put together script narrates the stories of seven unlikely individuals who come together to form a local warm up band for a popular Japanese singer who will be arriving in the scenic town of Hengchun, Taipei, for a beach concert. Amongst them are interesting characters like a frustrated band singer, a Japanese model turned translator, a violent police officer and a talented, young but weird synthesizer player. There is also another storyline which involves seven unsent love letters from 60 years ago.

With a plot like that, we can already predict how romantic die-hards will be flocking to the theatres when the movie opens.

Imagine that it is the 1940s. There are seven penned but unsent love letters that expresses a Japanese man’s regret for leaving a Taiwanese woman, who originally planned to elope with him to Japan. Then picture magnificently filmed sequences at a ship dock where the two lovers are separated. Craning shots, romantic music, anxious expressions and a Japanese narration voiceover make these scenes feel atmospherically epic – How can anyone not be touched by them?

The above picturesque moments are nicely weaved in and contrasted with present day depictions of daily life where common folk go about their lives and have dreams. The hustle and bustle of a busy town, suddenly brought to life when a Japanese superstar announces that he will hold a concert, is vividly caught on lens in this film. Although there are many supporting characters along the way, you learn to care for them throughout the film’s 129 minute runtime. Each has a unique character which reminds you of someone you know, each has an aspiration that reminds you of what you want in life.

And this connectedness is possible because of the cast’s endearing and honest performances. Van Fan, who plays the angst ridden band leader, is a perfect personification of many young lost souls today. Chie Tanaka, who plays the Japanese correspondent, may appear unlikable at first with her feisty attitude, but the character grows on you gradually. The candid, sincere and entertaining portrayals of other characters by native Taiwanese artistes like Min-Hsiung, Ying Wei-min and Johnny C.J. Lin also add nice human touches to the film.

As the movie comes to a finale where music takes centre stage, you’ll be cheering the human spirit which celebrates love and hope.

Movie Rating:

(This film’s got heart and soul, and you know you can feel it)

Review by John Li


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