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Strugglers find love, fame

"CAPE No. 7," currently being screened at local cinemas, is perhaps one of the best romances to come from Taiwan, combining box office success and award-winning performances.

Written and directed by Taiwan native Wei Te-sheng, this low-budget production became the top box-office hit in Taiwan and banked over 100 million yuan after opening last August.

The movie later won six awards, including Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year at the 2008 Golden Horse Awards, a much coveted Chinese-language film prize. It was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards this year.

The film tells, with occasional touches of humor, of the failed Taiwanese rock band singer Aga who returns to his small coastal hometown and is forced to play with five other local residents in a hastily-assembled amateur band that will open for a Japanese pop star. As they get the band together, Aga falls in love with the Japanese publicist Tomoko who has been assigned to oversee the show.

A sub-plot involves a bittersweet romance between a Japanese teacher and a Taiwanese woman when the island was occupied by Japanese troops from 1895 to 1945. The lovers are forced to separate after the surrender of Japan in World War II.

With these two stories interweaving throughout, the movie is not just intriguing and entertaining but is genuinely moving as well.


"Cape No. 7" isn't just a romance, at least, not in the traditional sense.

The way the musician Aga has to quickly form a makeshift band, which includes a teenage girl and an 80-something man, introduces elements of achieving impossible dreams and conquering weaknesses.

The six very ordinary musicians have little confidence but are united by the dream of a musical goal.

They do not have great aspirations but as they learn to work together, to communicate and compromise, they all change for the better. Even when the going gets tough none of them wants to quit.

They eventually find themselves on the day as members of an extraordinary band that thousands of fans welcome as a new phenomenon, even bigger than the Japanese superstar for whom they were warming up the audience.

It might seem like a cliche with its uplifting themes - we've seen dozens of similar stories before - but it won't stop you being truly affected and inspired. The movie includes sensational music, realistic settings and vivid performances which all contribute to the success of "Cape No. 7."

The movie is only in Mandarin, Taiwan dialect and Japanese with Chinese subtitles so expats should find an authorized DVD with English subtitles. "Cape No. 7" runs 129 minutes and earns four stars out of five.


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