×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cape No. 7

A big-hearted let's-put-on-a-show comedy centered on a despondent musician who gets his mojo back with a band of eccentric amateurs in his provincial hometown, "Cape No. 7" reps a promising debut by Taiwanese helmer Wei Te-sheng.

With:
With: Van, Chie Tanaka, Ma Ju-lung, Johnny C.J. Lin, Joanne, Kousuke Atari, Ying Wei-man. (Mandarin, Japanese, English dialogue)

A big-hearted let’s-put-on-a-show comedy centered on a despondent musician who gets his mojo back with a band of eccentric amateurs in his provincial hometown, “Cape No. 7” reps a promising debut by Taiwanese helmer Wei Te-sheng. After a slow start on Aug. 22 domestic release, pic has become one of the most successful Taiwanese films ever, with a gross exceeding NT$400 million ($12 million). Announced as Taiwan’s foreign-language film Oscar submission, this charmer has remake potential and strong regional prospects, though chances of a big bust-out in Western markets look slim.

Downcast after failing to crack the Taipei music scene, Aga (pop singer Van Fan, credited as Van) returns to the coastal town of Hangchun and takes a job as a postman. Everyone else in the picturesque tourist destination buzzes with excitement when it’s announced that a local band will be recruited to play as curtain-raiser at an outdoor concert headlining (real-life) Japanese pop star Kousuke Atari.

Popular on Variety

Hilariously in charge of arrangements is Aga’s stepfather, “Mr. Representative” (Ma Ju-lung), a motor-mouthed council official who wants Aga to lead the support act to glory. It’s only a matter of time before Aga steps up to the microphone, but not before a funny run through the time-honored audition sequence.

The lovable oddballs eventually gathered around Aga include drummer Frog (Ying Wei-man), an excitable motorcyle mechanic; Uncle Mao (Johnny C.J. Lin), an 80-year-old postman who swaps his gekkin (traditional Chinese lute) for an electric bass guitar; and Dada (Joanne), a 10-year-old keyboard player from the church band who insists on finishing every song with an “amen.”

Pic hums along nicely with the band’s creative squabbles and personal dramas en route to inevitable triumph at the big gig. Giving a large and mostly inexperienced cast plenty of room for boisterous thesping while keeping a tight rein on any overkill, Wei shows real flair for comedy and underpins the fun with compassion for the disappointments and loneliness hidden inside many of the characters.

Less engaging is a 1945-set wrap-around love story intended to light a halo around Aga’s romance with Tomoko (Chie Tanaka), a Mandarin-speaking Japanese ex-model; the attempt to draw poetic parallels across time zones is hampered by the mechanical nature of Aga and Tomoko’s cross-cultural attraction.

Colorful production design and costuming look terrific in widescreen, and lenser Chin Ding-chang’s coverage of Hengchun won’t harm the tourist trade. Peppy score and catchy concert songs keep the toes tapping. Other technical work is solid.

In a surprise development, considering that the romance between a Taiwanese and a Japanese during Japan’s period of occupation could easily constitute grounds for banning the film on the Chinese mainland, pic was approved for exhibition there early November. China Film Group will handle disribution.

Cape No. 7

Taiwan

Production: A Buena Vista Intl. release of an ARS Film production. (International sales: Good Films Workshop, Taipei.) Produced by Lin Tien-kui, Tony Hu, Cheng Ming-fu, Lewis Lu, Chang Chang-ti. Executive producers, Jimmy Huang, Wei Te-sheng. Directed, written by Wei Te-sheng.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Chin Ding-chang; editors, Lai Hui-chuan, Su Pei-yi; music, Fred Lu, Lo Chi-yi; production designer, Tang Chia-hung; sound (Dolby Digital), Tu Duu-chi; associate producers, Li Ya-mei, Rebecca Chen; assistant director, Lien Yi-chi; casting, Icha Liu, Li Hsui-luan, Chen Han-shun. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (A Window on Asian Cinema), Oct. 8, 2008. (Also in Taipei, Hawaii, Taipei Golden Horse film festivals.) Running time: 129 MIN.

With: With: Van, Chie Tanaka, Ma Ju-lung, Johnny C.J. Lin, Joanne, Kousuke Atari, Ying Wei-man. (Mandarin, Japanese, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly

    Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly Focusing on Genre Films and Series

    2019 has been an excellent year for films from Africa and the Middle East, with a higher presence in A-list festivals, and kudos for films such as Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The “new wave” of Arab and African cinema includes a small group of films that explore links with [...]

  • Producer Said Hamich on 'Zanka Contact,'

    Producer Said Hamich on Atlas Workshop Winner 'Zanka Contact,' Upcoming Projects

    Two projects from Franco-Moroccan producer Saïd Hamich won big at the Marrakech Film Festival’s Atlas Workshop this year, with the upcoming Kamal Lazraq-directed feature “Les Meutes” nabbing a development prize and the recently wrapped “Zanka Contact” winning an $11,000 post-production grant. “Zanka Contact” director Ismaël El Iraki was on-hand to present 10 minutes of footage, [...]

  • Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key

    Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key in Promoting Films From the Arab World, Africa

    Looking back at the lineups of key festivals such as Cannes and Venice this year, 2019 stands out as a banner year for movies from the African continent and the Arab world. During a panel hosted at the Netflix-sponsored industry event Atlas Workshops during the Marrakech Film Festival, Rémi Bonhomme, who works at Cannes’ Critics’ [...]

  • Robert RedfordRobert Redford tribute, 18th Marrakech

    Robert Redford Talks About Potential Next Film, U.S. Politics, Life Philosophy

    During a 90-minute onstage conversation at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he received an honorary tribute, Robert Redford spoke about his life-long quest for truth and freedom, and his political engagement through films, as well as a long-gestating project he’s considering producing, despite having announced his retirement. When he has spoken about the project, “109 [...]

  • For Sama SXSW Cannes Documentary

    'For Sama' Wins Best Feature at International Documentary Association Awards

    Syrian Civil War diary “For Sama” has won the best feature award from the International Documentary Association for Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. The award was presented by Frances Fisher on Saturday night at the 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. The first-time award for Best Director went to Steven Bognar and Julia [...]

  • Two/One

    Macao Film Review: 'Two/One'

    Sometimes when you look out of an airplane window during a long-haul flight you get a view like the God’s-eye imagery that occasionally punctuates Argentinian filmmaker Juan Cabral’s intriguing debut: a dark, curved horizon rimmed with the glimmer of a new dawn. “Two/One,” the celebrated advertising director’s first full-length feature, seems born of this lofty, [...]

  • Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s

    Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s Etoile d’Or

    The 18th edition of the Marrakech Intl. Film Festival awarded the Etoile d’Or for best film to Colombia’s “Valley of Souls,” directed by Nicolás Rincón Gille. In his acceptance speech the director said: “Colombia is a country that people know very little about. But in this film I try to offer a glimpse of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content