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It's not everyday we get to see a movie that touches on the inner
workings of a Hong Kong music industry, but Heiward Mak's DIVA is one
notable exception. While the movie is commercially-friendly where no
clichés are left unturned, it's also surprisingly effective and
sometimes insightful. And of course, there's Chapman To's
scene-stealing performance. More about him later.
Ten years ago, J (singer Joey Yung) is a nobody. But it is not until
she meets a manager Man (Chapman To), who finds her potential enough to
be a singing superstar. Cut to the present day, J has becomes the
reigning pop queen who often stage sold-out concerts at the Hong Kong
Coliseum. Much of her huge success comes from her manager Man, who has
been working with her for so long. While J gets to enjoy a glamorous
life of fame and fortune, she actually feels like a slave who often
being controlled what to do and what not to do. She even has little
sense of privacy, and it doesn't takes long before she feels intense
amounts of pressure until she is losing her voice at a live show.
Knowing that this situation may cause an unwanted scandal by the media,
Man immediately sends J over to the Mainland for a fast recovery.
There, she meets a blind masseur Hu Ming (Hu Ge) where she eventually
falls in love with him. At the beginning, she is glad to find a
blissful life with her newfound boyfriend. But Man doesn't agrees with
her relationship at all because he knows that dating a blind man will
cause her a bad reputation among fans and media.
Meanwhile, Man is also grooming a young singing sensation Red (Mag Lam)
to be the next big diva like J. While Man is very happy to be
discovered that her dream of stardom is about to come true, she is also
risked her relationship with her boyfriend Lok (Carlos Chan).
Mak's screenplay is predictable at best, and whatever dark side of the
Hong Kong music industry are mostly depicted at a surface value. But as
mentioned earlier, it's also effectively told that is undeniably crowd
pleasing for mainstream viewers. There are times the movie has its
insightful moments of how a singing superstar actually being moulded.
Here, we learn it's not the singer who's calling the shots but rather
it's the manager that pulls the string all along. Other than that, I
personally like the particular question involving the difference
between a person who likes to sing and a person who sings for a living
that worthy of a debate.
And speaking of manager, Chapman To (who also produced the movie) has
delivered one of his most career-defining performances in his career.
In fact, he's one of the best reasons that makes this movie
compulsively watchable. The way he depicts as a shady and despicable
manager who willing to do whatever it takes for his starlets (J and
Red) is undeniably engaging.
His top-notch performance aside, it is unfortunate the rest of the cast
pales by comparison. With the movie given the title as DIVA, you would
naturally expect that it was the lead who should be given the
limelight. And that limelight supposed to belong to Joey Yung herself.
However, Yung's performance is strangely unremarkable. She is basically
being herself, and there's no depth about her character at all. Her
supposedly lead performance feels like an afterthought. Another problem
is Mak's strange decision not to let her actually performing during
many of her musical sequences. Up-and-coming Mag Lam fares a little
better than Yung, and that's just about it.
DIVA may have a share of many flaws, but overall it's a crowd-pleasing
entertainment that remains worthwhile.
Tags for Diva Full Movie
, Chapman To
, Ge Hu
, Joey Yung
, Kara Hui
, Mag Lam
, Seli Xian
, Wilfred Lau
, William Wing Hong So
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