|Daniel Wu||Michael Wu|
|Shu Qi||Yang Yin|
|Richard Ng||Wu De-hui|
|Faye Yu||Miss Xian|
|From Poker Industries|
I've watched this movie twice and I'm still not sure whether I liked it or not or even what it is about. The only other movie I've seen from Ms. Cheung was An Autumn's Tale which, as I recall, I quite liked. Beijing Rocks is nominated for several Hong Kong Film Awards including best cinematography (Peter Pau) and best picture, not to mention best score and best song which seem appropriate for a movie about musicians.
Michael is a "so-called singer/songwriter" from Hong Kong who can't leave Beijing until after his court date for an assault charge. No songs are coming to him. His band, The Mexican Jumping Beans, isn't popular enough that their CDs are worth pirating. His Mandarin isn't very good and he doesn't belong anywhere. He's stays with his dad's girlfriend on the posh side of town until the paparazzi drive him away. One night he wanders into a club where the Moonwatchers are playing and enjoys the music. There's an altercation and the bandmembers flea out the backdoor on their bicycles. Michael follows and meets the group.
The Moonwatchers are fronted by Road. Road's dad wanted Road to follow in his footsteps as a train engineer but all Road ever wanted to do was rock so he came to Beijing. He thinks the songs he sings are bad but the next one will be better. Road loves dogs but has a hard time keeping one. He suspects they are being eaten.
Road's girlfriend is Yang Yin. She realized on the eve of the new millenium, during the fireworks, that she had no friends and no family and no reason to stay in the hick town where she lived so she came to Beijing to find some friends and family. She's the "prima ballerina of the Glorious Sun Song", a stripper. Michael falls for her.
When Yin is arrested for assaulting a mutton vendor who interfered with the show, the Moonwatchers and the proprietor of the Glorious Sun Song decide to raise the bail money by traveling around the country with a sort of vaudeville tent show. The Glorious Sun Song has other acts besides the strippers and with the Moonwatchers can provide a full evening of entertainment. Michael tags along, though it is a long way from the cushy life he is used to.
The scenes of the road trip are some of the most evocative in the film, combining shots of the other acts, the audience, sometimes asleep, and a neighboring farmer complaining that the rock music is putting his pigs off their feed.
When they return to Beijing, Road has a meeting with a record label.
I really felt for Michael, doing his best to fit in and being pushed out, though I did wonder if the allure of Yin was because she was Road's girl. Wu's performance isn't as overwrought as in Purple Storm but it's not a role that calls for emoting.
I think I liked the film. It is an involving story but I'm not sure where it went or what I'm supposed to take away from it. The ending was too indefinite for me so I decided on four stars instead of five but it was engaging enough to merit more than three.
There is a good reason Beijing Rocks is nominated for a cinematography award and, fortunately, the anamorphic transfer almost does justice to the film. As someone who isn't very musical I would have to say that the music is pretty good but what do I know.