right, “Wax” is the word. Named for his hair
styler, Wax is a singing kung fu motorcycle gang member, who is out to win the
heart of the innocent ingénue. There
will be dancing, fighting, and swooning in Jay Chou’s The Rooftop (trailer
closing night film of the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival (and also part of
the Well Go USA spotlight), which opens theatrically in New York this Friday.
and his bowling biker buds live in the Rooftop section of Galilee, under the
shadow of the huge outdoor billboards.
They do not mind the scenery though.
In fact, they are rather fond of the one featuring Starling, a budding
starlet and supermodel. Wax’s three
stooges, Tempura, Egg, and Broccoli refer to her as “Sister-in-Law” to needle
the big smitten lug. Everyone assumes
nothing will ever come of his impossible crush until the day Wax picks up some
part-time stuntman work getting the snot beat out of him on the set of her next
course, she notices him. As their chaste
courtship heats up, William (the one-named), Starling’s mobbed-up movie star
patron, contrives to sabotage their romance.
We know he is bad news because he is an associate of Red, one of Tempura’s
unfriendly rent-collecting rivals working for the corrupt housing
authority. That’s right, some of the
villains are Taiwanese HUD bureaucrats, albeit decidedly more flamboyant than
our homegrown variety.
his second outing in the director’s chair, pop idol and action super-star Chou channels
his inner Baz Lurhmann, unleashing a kaleidoscope of colors and staging big flashy,
razzle-dazzling musical numbers. Clearly, not afraid of a little sentiment,
Chou indulges one big melodramatic set piece, after another. One minute Wax and Starling are strolling
through a carnival, next they are dancing in the rain, and shortly thereafter they
stare into each other eyes in his quaint rooftop neighborhood as fireworks
explode in the background. It’s all
and the radiant Li Xinai look like an attractive couple and develop some half
decent romantic chemistry together. She
even does some legit acting in her own scenes. However, the crafty old HK vet
Eric Tsang often steals the show as Dr. Bo, the lads’ martial arts mentor and
local snake oil salesman. Alan Ko also
has his moments as Tempura, the enforcer trying to go straight. Unfortunately, the shticky comic relief
delivered by Egg and Broccoli becomes embarrassing over time.
has a few gags that will have viewers laughing in spite of themselves. Truly, this is kitchen sink filmmaking. Chou throws it all in, including a way over
the top framing device. Yet, Mark Lee
Ping Bin, considered one of the world’s finest cinematographers for his work on
films like Norwegian Wood, makes it
all look bright and sparkly. If you want
spectacle, Chou has your spectacle right here.
Recommended for those who thought The
Great Gatsby was too staid and did not have enough martial arts, The Rooftop officially closed this year’s
NYAFF last night, but will open this Friday (7/19) in New York at the AMC
Labels: Eric Tsang, Jay Chou, Movie Musicals, NYAFF '13, Taiwanese Cinema