Thursday, September 07, 2006

MY NAME IS FAME: Another Star Is Born

MY NAME IS FAME (romantic comedy)
Cast: Lau Ching-wan, Huo Si-yan and Candace Yu On-on
Director: Lau Kwok-jing
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

The Fame poster
PREAMBLE: A brooding actor who has seen better days meets this eager young rookie who is determined to be in the movies. Reluctantly, he takes her under his wing and coaches her to become a star. She learns fast and even falls in love with him. Sounds familiar? Sure, you have probably seen this story being played out countless times, most famously in the remakes of A Star Is Born which was first released in 1937. It was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason in the lead, and again in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? My Name Is Fame is the Hong Kong (Cantonese) version of A Star Is Born directed by Lau Kwok-jing. The plot is pretty much the same but the updated story offers viewers an insight into the movie industry in Hong Kong.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Poon Ka Fai (Lau Ching-wan) is an award-winning actor who feels that he should be judged by his talent and not by his inability to suck up to producers and directors. As such, he is considered foul-tempered and arrogant and shunned by the industry. Jobless and depressed, Ka Fai moonlights as an assistant with a talent agency run by an old flame (Candace Yu).
Faye Ng (Huo Si-yan) is the eager-beaver youth from mainland China who is determined to get a foothold in Hong Kong show business. She idolises Ka Fai and begs him to be her acting coach and manager. Well, he is not exactly the patient teacher but he cares for her well enough to help her avoid the mistakes he made and fend off the wolves. Of course, the inevitable happens and we get a touching love story and a few surprises.

HIGHLIGHTS: It is no surprise that Lau Ching-Wan is a veteran and a maverick at this sort of drama. His brooding, ready-to-boil-over looks are a boon to his role. However, the brightest star of the movie is Huo Si-yan, a newcomer who even manages to steal the show from the more experienced stars. Her fresh, innocent-looking face endears her to the audience and we root for her throughout the movie. Her career should definitely take a leap after this outing. Wayne Lai plays a mechanic and former actor who also provides some snide remarks about the industry.
The other surprises are the walk-in cameos by popular stars like Cheng E-Kin, Eric Tsang and Tony Leung Ka Fai, directors Gordon Chan, Fruit Chan and the legendary Ann Hui.

LOWLIGHTS: Some parts tend to drag a bit as director Lau seems to go overboard with Ka Fai’s drinking sequences.

THE LOWDOWN: On the whole, My Name Is Fame is both entertaining and engaging.


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