Feels like it’s been a long while since Bolin Chen appeared on this blog. I haven’t forgot about him! Since he’s been concentrating on movies I finally got the chance to catch up (at least a little) recently on 2 of them which were released last year. The much anticipated dream cast in Go Lala Go (with Ariel Lin and Vic Chou), and the Korean/Chinese collaboration Bad Guys Always Die (with Son Ye Jin). Since I’m sure I wasn’t the only one drooling over the casts in Go Lala Go, let’s discuss that one first.
Name: Go Lala Go (China: 杜拉拉追婚记 / Taiwan & HK: 追婚日记)
Country of Origin: China
Length: 101 minutes
Original Release Date: 4 December 2015 (China & Taiwan)
Cast: Ariel Lin as Du La La, Vic Chou as Wang Wei, Bolin Chen as Chen Feng, Nana as Sha Dang Dang
Synopsis: At 33 years old, Du La La (Ariel Lin)’s career seems to be going well but she is unmarried. However, difficulties arise when a new ‘devil’ boss arrives (Vivian Wu) and her beautiful assistant Sha Dang Dang (Nana) is not afraid to voice her ambitions to takeover La La’s role in one year. In love, she has a steady photographer boyfriend Wang Wei (Vic Chou). They have been together for five years and yet, he hasn’t proposed. With pressures mounting from her parents, this caused a rift in their relationship. She then meets Chen Feng (Bolin Chen), a rich, successful bachelor who pursues her. Which will she choose? Career or love? Wang Wei or Chen Feng?
My Rating: 8/10
Overview: I think I might as well put this in every review I write because I’m going to say it again – no expectations = no disappointment! Generic story, great cast, I rated it so high because I was loving all the pretty on my screen.
Watching Go Lala Go, you can’t help but think you’ve seen it all before. The 30-something sassy girl who has a steady boyfriend, with a mum who wants her to get married ASAP, then meets an incredibly charming guy one can dream about… who actually is ready to commit to you in 5 seconds… What to do? Unfortunately I’ll never have to face such a dilemma but I guess if you’re Ariel Lin… Anyway, just don’t expect a new spin on the tried and tested formula because you ain’t going to find it here.
So if the story is not going to surprise, let’s discuss the actors since that’s what we’ve come for right?! After the success of In Time with You I guess it’s difficult for Ariel Lin to surpass that performance with a lacklustre storyline. Again, I feel like a broken record by saying – nothing new, she turned in her homework here. However, what about our male leads? I find it interesting they casted Vic as the steady boyfriend and Bolin as the ‘charming CEO’ because I thought it would’ve been the reverse. Or in other words, it feels ‘new’ to me that Bolin finally gets this type of role! He even gets to kabe don Ariel!
Was it good though?! I’m on the fence about this one, or maybe I was too distracted by those ankle pants he was wearing. See the poster? I’m sorry wardrobe guys everyone in the movie looked good EXCEPT Bolin. Were they trying to sabotage him? Noone should ever wear double breasted jackets, ever, and he should not be showing his ankles. OK?
As for Vic – How can anyone not love his character? (Or just Vic in general :P) But then, none of our actors can display their acting prowess with such material. Bah.
There’s been some talk around the necessity of casting Nana in this movie, since we have a great cast already. Does everything have to be a Korea/China collab these days?! Good thing was, I wasn’t distracted by the dubbing at all (didn’t even notice it for a while) but it was probably because she was such a minor character. She started off quite strong, by declaring that in one year, she’s going to be in the position of Du La La and openly flirting with La La’s boyfriend. I thought she was going to be the evil third wheel but she just faded away as the movie progressed. But that also means her character Sha Dang Dang could’ve been played by anyone, just another marketing gimmick it turned out to be.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Go Lala Go. I know it’s tempting to think if we’re going to have a great cast – use them properly and give them a decent story! These guys all won Golden Bells for Best Acting! But alas – we can’t have it all.
Name: Bad Guys Always Die (China: 坏蛋必须死 / Korea: 나쁜놈은 반드시 죽는다)
Country of Origin: China / South Korea
Length: 104 minutes
Original Release Date: 27 November 2015 (China), 7 January 2016 (Korea)
Cast: Bolin Chen as Qiang Zi, Son Ye Jin as Ji Yeon, Qiao Zhen Yu as San Er, Shin Hyun Joon as the killer
Synopsis: A Chinese teacher living in Busan named Qiang Zi (Bolin Chen) goes to Jeju Island for a trip with his brother and their two friends. However, things go awry after they witness a car crash. They try to help the unconscious woman (Son Ye Jin) they find in the car, but when they are pulled over by a cop, they are stunned when she wakes up, shoots him and takes all of them hostage. Following that, events become only more complicated for all involved. [Source: Twitchfilm.com]
My Rating: 8/10 (2 points for Bolin alone, I think)
Overview: My bias is clearly showing because if we take away Chen Bolin here, I’d probably rate this a 6/10. The story was interesting enough, the comedy in the beginning was done well, I particularly liked the title sequence but ultimately, the pace was too slow. Not much chemistry between the leads either.
Bad Guys Always Die was billed as an action-comedy. Maybe I just don’t watch a lot of these films but I felt it didn’t satisfy on both aspects. The comedy became less and less funny as the movie went on, and it was concentrated on two of the supporting leads, who were pretty much in a separate story of their own. It didn’t help that as you dig deeper into the storyline, it’s actually rather non-sensical and unbelievable. The action aspect was far worse, there simply wasn’t much of it and there was nothing spectacular.
The movie started off fairly strongly. It set up a mystery – Son Ye Jin as the intriguing woman we know nothing about. She doesn’t hesitate while shooting a police officer and she manages to kidnap Bolin and his brother. Surely she’s some sort of kickass assassin right? However, after about the one hour mark, I started looking at the clock. That’s a bad sign – I’m wondering when we’ll actually get to the point. As the ‘mystery’ starts to unravel, it was rather underwhelming. The more you think about why, the more it doesn’t make sense. Although I liked how the end sort of ties back to the opening scene, I just wished the storyline was tighter.
Can I please applaud Bolin for speaking Korean for most of this movie? While Son Ye Jin had like 2 lines of Chinese, he spoke mostly Korean, in his own voice, not dubbed. (Although I’m curious to hear any feedback from Korean speakers on how he actually did?! Was it any good?) This man can speak like 6 languages now (having filmed in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea) I’m in awe of his talents. Unfortunately I don’t think his role here was anything noteworthy. His chemistry with Son Ye Jin was particularly lacking, although I suspect that has more to do with the story than anything. There was some potential laughs with the four friends going on a roadtrip, but sadly we didn’t get to see much of that either as the group was separately fairly early.
Overall, if you like Son Ye Jin and/or Bolin Chen, of course go and watch it! Jeju Island looks beautiful here, so if you’re interested in the scenery, it’s worth a look I suppose. Otherwise, it’s a harmless way to speak (almost) 2 hours but you might be left unsatisfied afterwards.