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In Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitle
Director: Leehom Wang
Cast: Leehom Wang, Liu Yifei, Joan Chen, Chen Handian, Khalil Fong
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://t.sina.com.cn/loveindisguise

Opening Day: 12 August 2010


Impossibly famous from an incredibly young age, Du Ming Han has only ever known a celebrity pop star existence. Yet, despite all the perks and glamour, there is still something lacking in his charmed life: true love. Refusing to give up in his search, with the help of fellow musician and friend Wei Zhi Bo, DMH disguised as a regular Joe in hope to find true love.

While incognito, DMH and WZB stumble across the performance of a classical Chinese orchestra and DMH is immediately captivated by the melodies of the guzheng soloist, Liu Mei Qing,a classical music student at the Shanghai Conservatory, whose affections lie with the accomplished, if not arrogant, conservatory virtuoso,Zhu Xue Zhang. DMH nevertheless promises to help bring them together, determined to spend more time with LMQ.

Inevitably, DMH’s distraction from his superstar responsibilities does not go unnoticed by Agent Joan. As he and LQM grow closer, it becomes increasingly difficult to conceal his identity. What happens if she finds out who he really is? Can she really love and respect a celebrity pop star? And can she forgive him for lying?

Movie Review:

"Don’t expect too much from a musician turned director’s movie." Oh really? Then here’s your remedy for the cynicism.

Love in disguise is Leehom’s first attempt at directing a movie. Prior to this movie direction, his only experience is directing his own music videos, which are of a totally different league and agenda as this rom-com. And though his experience in the field of acting is rather bare, he has actually succeeded in delivering this movie.

First, the cast has won over some attention. Well, Leehom being the lead actor, give some assurances to the box office ticket sales. Apart from that, we see that the actors and actresses in this cast list are rather diverse. Diverse as it is, it has its advantage as it offers a bountiful and colourful rendition of fun and comedic characters, which is pertinent in this movie. Though many people are largely unfamiliar with the cast list, you may spot a few familiar faces like Taiwanese comedian-host Chen Handian and the special appearance of Hong Kong singer-songwriter Khalil Fong. Also, watch out for China-born American Liu Yi Fei, who pulled off a noteworthy act of the Guzheng girl.

The main plot in this movie is probably somewhat familiar; it’s a star’s over-glamorised life. As confessed by Leehom himself, he got the idea from observations and his own experience in the entertainment industry. Much of it is really exaggerating, from the dogmatic manager Joan-jie to the ‘abstract’ and ‘artistic’ fashion designer who helped them with the disguise. Even a star’s expected protocol towards gossips and tabloid news are dramatized in the same fashion. However, all these are built on that fraction of reality, and are but an attempt to reflect the ugly truth in the entertainment industry in a non-intimidating manner. In fact, its brilliance is in that and brings about high entertainment value. The introduction and context setting, then the arrangement of the sequence of events were well thought through. This is owing to the efforts of perfectionist Leehom, who consulted many other scriptwriters, and amended at least 53 times before this finalized one.

So as boy meets girl, boy is confused with how he feels and then finally realizes that he is in love… so on and so forth, are also presented in a relatively new manner. Like how boy encounters his soul mate in music, through music. It sort of perpetuates the idea that music has no boundary, and in fact connects people. These are also coupled with delicate and brilliant illustrations, which reflect the boy’s visions when immersed in the realm of music. Though the visions can be abstract at times, they are very engaging and entertain the viewers. Also, the illustrations have a good balance between traditional and contemporary elements. In particular, the traditional Chinese ink and wash drawings combined with the classical Chinese music were efficient in accentuating the mood. Other special effects though amateur, are sufficiently enough to lead viewers to feel for the characters, whether happy or sad.

Music is considerably one of the most important elements in this movie. Its role is different from music in Broadway musicals, nor is it the same as music in dance movies. Music in this case tells us a story vividly. Because the characters are not able to encounter each other face to face, they use music (and lyrics) as a channel to convey their feelings and messages. The thoughtful lyrics coupled with soothing music, is a definite spot on. Moreover, it has highlighted the long forgotten beauty of classical Chinese music.

Enduring the 6 month long of shooting in cold Shanghai definitely paid off. Uncluttered, unsophisticated, this is a movie that turned out really right. The humble lad credits directors like Jackie Chan and Ang Lee, who he had worked with in previous productions as he picked up invaluable directing skills from them. It is justifiable that he is confident that this movie will sell. Drop the cynicism; be impressed by this lad.

Movie Rating:

(Are you ready to find that *one* soul mate that knows you just as you are, and makes you the best you could be? Let Leehom show you how)

Review by Tho Shu Ling


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