Wednesday, September 20, 2006


THE HEAVENLY KINGS (mock documentary)
Cast: Conroy Chan, Andrew Lin, Daniel Wu and Terence Yin
Director: Daniel Wu
Time: 85 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

The boy band ALIVE
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? If the recent Rock School showed us how to make it as a rock musician, this ‘tongue-in-cheek’ documentary should give us an idea about how to form a boy (or girl) band and rock the music industry. At least for a while…
The multi-million dollar music industry in Hong Kong is such a dog-eat-dog world that it takes a lot more than just talent and skills to break into it, let alone survive. Opening segments of the movie also tell us how popular songs are easily downloaded from the Internet by ‘collectors’; how recording companies skew their contracts with new artistes to their own advantage; and the crazy things artistes have to do to get one-up on their rivals.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? The Heavenly Kings is purportedly about director Daniel Wu’s real-life boy band Alive, a quartet of friends who decided to try their hand at cutting a music CD even though only one of them could actually sing. The boys are Conroy Chan, who calls himself as the fattest member of any band; Andrew Lin, a brooding and meticulous guy who can’t sing or dance; Terence Yin, the only one who has any singing experience; and of course Wu, the ‘prettiest’ and ‘coolest’ of the lot.
After sacking their proposed recording company (for changing the terms of the agreement), the boys decide to do it all by themselves. They upload their own songs on the Internet, and then claim that someone has stolen their intellectual property. The subsequent publicity about the 'theft' is enough to launch their career as a boy band.

HIGHLIGHTS: For this ‘mockumentary’, Wu employed only a crew of three, armed with just some video cameras, a boom mike and the presumption that people would actually pay to see his ‘fly-on-the-wall’ perspective on how to break into the music scene. The cameras follow the four boys everywhere (including the toilet) to get fake candid footage on their lives as wannabe pop stars. And, expectedly, they also throw in fart jokes for good measure.
These scenes are inter-cut with honest real-live interviews with Cantopop idols like Miriam Yeung, Nicholas Tse and Jacky Cheung – and some tacky web cartoons that serve as flashbacks and ‘thought bubbles’.
I must admit that once we get over the initial 'shock' over the truth of this 'documentary', it is easy to go with its flow. There are many insights into the music industry to be gleaned from this offering, and there is even tension in the 'partnership' of Alive. Terence, for instance, is so tardy at their road shows that he nearly derails the band's performance. And of course, Daniel Wu's fans will get to learn a whole lot more about him.

LOWLIGHTS: I abhor the animated segments. They are supposed to provide comic relief but they make the movie look more amateurish instead.

THE LOWDOWN: On the whole, however, this mockumentary works. Come to think of it, the idea is so simple and effective that we wonder why no one had thought of it earlier.


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