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北京樂與路 (2001)
Beijing Rocks

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/03/2008

“Beijing Rocks” begins with quickly cut shots that alternate between a vibrant late night music scene and the more sedate daytime tourist places—fountains, markets, contrasting architecture— as observed by Michael Wu. Michael is the perfect picture of alienation, lonely in a crowd, apathetic and rootless—the opposite of what a model citizen of the People’s Republic should be. Since Michael is a visitor from Hong Kong his always present viewfinder serves as a way for the audience to witness the gritty life of Chinese rockers and their girlfriends.

The story unfolds through the three pair of characters who overlap and interact. There is Road, the leather-clad rebel who is the lead singer and composer for the ragtag band of rockers and Yang Yin, his longsuffering and ravishing girlfriend. A second pair is Michael and Yang Yin while the third is Michael and Wu De Hui, his father who is back in Hong Kong trying to pull some strings to get serious assault charges against Michael dismissed.

The relationship between Road and Yang is nothing new—a misunderstood artist (who occasionally acts like a petulant child) and the woman who loves him even knowing that he cheats on her, sabotages the group’s chance to sign a record deal and runs away whenever he is faced with a difficult decision. It is difficult to identify with Road—in any burgeoning area of music there will be an army of more or less talented people who don’t get the break they need but he goes out of his way to insure he won’t succeed.

Michael is clearly infatuated with Yang—as is the audience. Played with perfectly unselfconscious sexiness by Shu Qi, Yang is the girl that every guy wants to know, to sleep with, to hang around with—she is a dream girl. Totally committed to Road who treats her horribly, Yang responds to Michael enough to hold hands with him when they take a walk but immediately returns to her true love.

Michael is the son of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman. Wu De Hui is represented only by text messages or voice mails on Michael’s mobile phone until the end of the movie when Michael returns to Hong Kong to face the charges against him. He has been on the mainland trying to meet some music industry big shots and interest them in his saccharine love songs but instead tags along with Road and his group.

As is the case in Hollywood movies the heartless record company execs who think only of the bottom line who keep the real artist (Road) from reaching his potential. The confrontation scene between the two A&R guys and Road is a by-the-numbers exercise in artistic outrage complete with exterior shots of the huge, soulless skyscrapers where the record company has its offices. The problem, at least for this Western observer, is that while censorship and lack of artistic freedom certainly exist in the PRC one imagines the government would be more interested in keeping the lid on things.

Movies have been made about musicians and composers almost since the Lumiere Brothers first cranked a camera. Most of them haven’t been very good for a few reasons. One is that most musicians aren’t terribly interesting other than when they are performing. Oliver Stone tried it with Jim Morrison in 1991, Anthony Mann did a biopic of Glenn Miller in 1954, Alfred Green’s now campy “The Jolson Story” was released in 1946. Neither they nor other screen depictions of popular musicians captured the visceral energy, boundless talent and sheer star power that made them icons.

There is a very funny scene in which Shu Qi and the other dancers in her troupe handle a drunken lout who climbs onto the stage trying to manhandle them. He is dispatched with a whack on the head with a stiletto heel—the girls clearly know how to deal guys who get out of control. The matter is dealt with by the local police since a wound must be at least four centimeters long to be referred to “the bureau” (according to the subtitles) and his cut is only 3.5 centimeters. Shu Qi makes this movie—she lights things up when she is onscreen and we wait for her return when the focus is on the guys.

Reviewed by: mediawhore
Date: 03/21/2003

although i wasn't thrilled about watching this movie, i was pleasantly surprised by the experience. bad music and cheesy psuedo romance aside, the movie had a lot going for it...namely shu qi. i have to finally admit it...she really is a talented little fox.

Reviewed by: MinayUK
Date: 01/26/2003
Summary: Shu Qi Shu Qi how I love thee!

Yes its an arty movie, yes its about the underground rock scene and the irritating freedom-of-expression verses society and record companies dynamic.....but hold your horses ladies and gents this movie is 100% character driven, in fact I hate rock, so I wasnt exactly watching this movie for the songs, but then Im sure not many people will, as they are a tad crap. Daniel Wu is superb, and weirdly I felt sorry for his rich-boy, need to write a pop song character. But ultimately this movie is a must for Shu Qi fans. She is not only beautiful and talented, but this movie demonstrates once again why I have fallen so deeply for her. Sounding like a sad romantic, I have to say there were moments in the movie, dissolving myself in the amazing widescreen shots, where I was no longer watching a DVD from my abode in London, but I was actualy out there, watching Shu Qi wash her hair in a nearby river after being stuck in a bus for three days touring on the road with the band.....great cinematography and strong characters with a sense of tragedy and renewed hope at the end. I knew why Daniel Wu's character was so messed up, and I really think we needed to see more of his relationship with his father for a complete ending. The Mexican jumping beans scene at the end is demonstrative of the loss of innocence in society today, and was a classic place to end the film. Give this movie a chance if you long for something different.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/30/2002
Summary: Arty film??

I am not much of a music guy. And i am not a fan of arty type movies. So do you think i liked this movie?

There is not much to say abotut his film. It's about characters, Daniel Wu as a rich son who comes to China for inspiration, Shu Qi who is lost in life but finds comfort in her bf despite them arguing all the time, and Geng Le, the bf who loves making music but at the same time feels like a failure in his parents eyes.

But i did not get too involed in this film. The characters are too foreign for me so i could not relate to them. i do not know chinese so i fast forwarded threw all the songs. There is not much here i can recommend.


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

Despite its title, this Mabel Cheung movie is less a hip, shallow MTV-style look into underground Rock and Youth culture in China's capital, and more a bittersweet, beautifully filmed fable about love, loss and hope with a rather traditional feel.

The story: Michael, a young, rich songwriter from HK (played by Daniel Wu) meets and starts to hang out with a group of Beijing rock musicians led by a long-haired rebel called Road (Geng Le) and his girlfriend (Shu Qi). They play gigs, tour the countryside, hawk music CDs, have run-ins with the police and generally live a wild and passionate life. Soon, Michael falls for the free spirit played by Shu Qi, while Road tries to come to terms with the music industry and his family. A tragic event then brings dreams crashing to the ground.

I truly enjoyed this film. It's nicely paced, with very energetic passages as well as nice tender moments. The characters are well defined, and pretty soon I found myself totally drawn into the stories of these characters. The only drawback would be the rock music featured in the film, which I didn't find too interesting. Other than the concert footage, the musical score of the movie is traditional, btw. Daniel Wu was convincing as the slightly alienated, rich but lonely HK kid, and Shu Qi did a good job with her character, portraying a carefree sparkplug with fears of abandonment. Her last scene with the Mexican Jumping Beans was truly touching in its simplicity and hopefulness. Btw, we also get to listen to her sing - and I now know why she's one of the few HK actresses without a singing career.

In some ways, the movie does indeed feel a bit like Almost Famous, except that it isn't so much about being seduced by rock music; the sense I got was that this was more about jaded and Western-oriented HK (represented by Daniel Wu's character) tentatively exploring, and gradually learning to appreciate traditions, attitudes and culture of the mainland. But perhaps I'm reading too much into that.

The vcd is letterboxed with readable subtitles, good picture quality, and a stereo Mandarin soundtrack (no Cantonese dub). The dvd is very good anamorphic print with DD 5.1 optional subtitles and some nice extras such as Making Of doc and alternate ending. I'd recommend the movie, especially if you like Mabel Cheung's other movies.

Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 01/02/2002

A disappointing effort by Mabel Cheung and Alex Law to capture the feel of the contemporary Beijing underground rock scene. Though beautifully shot by Peter Pau (Beijing has never looked so gorgeous, so well-lit), the film falls flat, let down by a totally cliched Alex Law script. Daniel Wu, as a wannabe HK singer-songwriter, barely registers as an observer, then hanger-on, then semi-participant in a travelling rock band led by a long-haired rebel rocker Geng Le, accompanied by rocker's girlfriend Shu Qi (decorative as usual, but with a character barely more than a cipher). The songs, by Qiu Ye and Sperm Bank, are pretty lame (with the exception of girl band Hang On The Box's contribution). The film contains its own critique, which is pretty devastating: a Beijing music promoter points out to Geng Le that all his successful musicians are rebellious on the outside, but obedient inside; and Wu's character ruefully observes that there is no Hong Kong rock 'n roll. This film neither rocks nor rolls, and it's all commercial obedience, in a shell of faux-rebel style.

Reviewer Score: 6