Gangster Rock

The saddest thing about this whole experience was that I was actually anticipating it since I learned of the collaboration between Van and Leon. What it lack wasn’t the music, the acting, or the plot BUT the poor directing job and editing that made it hard to endure. It was like someone decided to be really, really sloppy with it but expected it to turn out good. It was not the fault of the actors or actresses that participated in it for once BUT because of the production team’s careless eyes. I am a very tolerant person and I’m not that picky on some details as long as it made sense. But the directing was so sloppy that made the scenes harder and harder to endure. I must admit there were worthwhile parts to watch and the messages carried throughout about the friendship and loyalty each band member held for each other was worth a thought and was touching to a point. YET the lack of attention to details made it so horrendous that you wouldn’t even want to watch a second time. (They were that careless–believe me.) It was too bad because they had a lot of good ideas revolving around the plot yet it had all gone to waste because of careless mistakes throughout. It was too obvious to not notice. Even if I’m that blind to details at times, only caring if the overall plot was good. It got a tad better later on since if you were involved in the plot itself, you wouldn’t noticed it as much anymore, but for opening scenes and trying to impress others, it was kind of weak with not monitoring some scenes more carefully.

Like(s):

  • Van as Ah Hai. Another role related to music/band theme. He had an attitude in here yet it was more of a stubbornness to stick to his principle, not abandoning his friends, that was all. Though I must admit he was a bit unrealistic regarding trying to get everyone to stick to the end with his ways, forgetting that each had quite a hardship to bear and responsibilities with their families. But he was not blind to those either when he finally found out how wrong he had been to hang on to such foolish thoughts, almost costing others’ lives.

  • Leon as Ah Hao. I think he has improved with his acting. This was quite a challenging role for him and he was really brave in stepping out of his comfort zone. His trouble with using the appropriate tone in some scenes was still noticeable but it got better as the movie moved on. It was like he was just uncomfortable with shouting swear words, etc so it sounded really awkward. There was also some traces of discomfort while acting as a bum at the beginning as well but it was not that noticeable. Not too bad. But the other scenes, he was better in those, not as nervous or not as raw anymore. Like the scenes where he was interacting with Van and the others. Then the parts where he was in control. It was easier for him in a sense because it kind of reinforced the bossy roles he took in several dramas already. Back to the character, he honestly seemed like a fierce, cold-blooded person but he really cared for friendship in a sense. He was always chanting the whole idea about ‘brothers’, etc yet his actions showed differently. One of the memorable scenes must be the part where this one group was making fun of Ah Long and he told Ah Hai that he forgot something when they were getting into the elevator–to which Ah Hai smiled, knowing him too well. Yes, it was his violent way of teaching someone a lesson and seemed wrong, but it showed how he cared enough to exert his energy.

  • Van and Leon collaborating. It was very refreshing and fun to see. My gosh! It was too funny trying to see Ah Hao trying to learn the gist of producing an album, taking care of the production. He was so clueless that made it adorable. Of course it was understandable since he only knew of the life he encountered with so many years already. There were of course more of the touching scenes as of the hilarious ones. I think their bond was the strongest in here since they got nothing to lose except their lives. It was like when others could not come anymore or Ah Hai was driven out of the other band members’ houses, he only had Ah Hao left to drink and talk with, no one else. Even when Ah Hai wanted to give up, Ah Hao wouldn’t let him. Ah Hao kept encouraging Ah Hai on.

  • Mickey Huang Zi Jiao as himself. That was too funny. Got to sympathize with him at various points. Having him in here was already funny.

  • Xiu Jie Kai as Jake. Interestingly, I thought he was the bad guy at first when he was caving in to temptation and taking the offer. It was just that he wanted something for himself (and others as we found out when the plot focused more on him). I thought his role was small yet it played an important part in the whole plot. I didn’t realize how good he was until the part where he was confronting Van in the rain. Wow! That blew everything away. He has great potential really. His character brought out the dark side of the popular scenes since it told the story of being an idol and not being able to control your life anymore. It was all about money, no longer about art. You can’t have both. Yet sometimes it wasn’t because you were such a greed (like in his case), but it was the only chance and only way to help yourself and others get out of the hole (financially in their case).

Funny Scene(s):

  • The part where Ah Hao went to meet with his boss, Jay. The one who took him in and looked after him all these years. Honestly, the guy was yelling at the others for eating too much and being overweight BUT he had to look at himself first. I guess being the boss helped since he could say anything because others couldn’t object. Also, he was offering some food to Ah Hao, saying that Ah Hao was too skinny, etc. It was a riot really. (NO, I am not promoting the idea of making fun of others’ weight, BUT more like are you serious? Yeah, it was the idea behind people having to look at themselves first before criticizing others. It was the mockery that made it funny, NOT the actual joke.)

  • The part where Boss Jay was attending to some situation. It was after he and Ah Hao talked and the others brought an old lady back because her son fled already. Boss Jay was like comforting the old lady and giving her money to survive, telling Ah Hao to take her home, etc. Then he whispered into Ah Hao’s ear to go find the son and teach him a lesson. He left after that while his henchmen were like mumbling something about him being a good guy or a gangster, etc. (Yup, the capability of playing both the roles of angel and demon.)

  • The part where Ah Hao finally acquired the record company and wanted the others to start working. He said, “I think publishing a record won’t be harder than killing people.” Honestly? I totally laughed out loud with that one.

  • The part where Ah Hai was asking Ah Hao why Ah Hao was helping them. Ah Hao was talking about his past and how the music touched him. Then out of nowhere, he was like, “So what do we do now? Kill someone?” Look at Van’s expression! It was just too much!

  • The part where Ah Hao was so into listening to Ah Hai’s singing while the band was in the recording room. Ah Hai was signaling to the others when he noticed that Ah Hao was listening and was even laying on the table. Then Ah Hao fell over so they had to run outside to tend to him.

  • The part when Boss Jay was seen in this one bar performing. He was trying to run away from Ah Hao but ran into another dude instead. He was mumbling about his lack of luck, etc when that dude entered the restroom also, staring at him. Probably trying to see why he looked so familiar? LOL! I so didn’t see it coming that he was there since it was off. Though it made sense since he was seen watching music on TV earlier. That wasn’t all since after that dude left, Ah Hao finally came in! He had to scram to one of the inside stalls to avoid a collision with Ah Hao. Then he went home and hit that one dude who was making comments about his weight/appearance. That other guy didn’t see it coming!

  • The part where Boss Jay was going grocery shopping with one of his henchmen. Honestly, who was he fooling? Still the fat talk, of course, but aiming at the other guy, not himself. He was scolding at the other dude for having high blood pressure and told him to take the low fat foods, etc. It got even better since he noticed the magazine where their band was being reviewed and he was so pissed off that they were called the worst in history, so he told the other dude to bring in the editor-in-chief.

  • The part where Ah Hao parked right into the spot that was supposedly to be taken. Then he just got out and shrugged like he didn’t do anything wrong, LOL! That was priceless! Though it was short-lived since the girl–Jennifer–was supposed to be the one that was interviewing him later. So much for first impressions.

  • The part where Jennifer was clarifying matters with Ah Hao. It was funny all right. She was saying how she was just enjoying the band’s music and not because of Ah Hao since she hadn’t forgiven him for their first encounter. He just shrugged. It was just so funny how he couldn’t care less as long as they were in.

  • The part when the families of the members of the band came seeking for their grandson/son and ran into Boss Jay’s band. It was too funny since Boss Jay thought they were another band the way they were dressed. Then there was also Ah Hai and the others trying to run. It was one big mess all right yet still hilarious. After Ah Hai and the others ran away, Boss Jay and his gang had to listen to the grandpa’s rants about them being devils, influencing the young kids, LOL! They had to run! That was too much. They were scared of the old man? OKAY…

  • The part where they thought Boss Jay died so it was getting out of control. It was too abrupt and too like terrifying in a sense to think BUT when he popped back up, it was just too funny. Honestly, I thought he died for real and I actually like him–for a gangster so crazy and so into music. He was too silly at times but he was the boss after all, he wouldn’t be that careless and it made sense that he wouldn’t be off as easily. He would’ve prepared for such cases.

  • The last part where Boss Jay and Ah Hao entered Jiao Jiao’s car to give him another sample. It was so funny how he was saying “It’s you again” when he saw Ah Hao. Then Boss Jay even resorted to begging for Jiao Jiao to listen. After they left, everyone was lining up and Boss Jay told Ah Hao to eat some more since he was too skinny, he wasn’t fitting in with them, etc. LOL!

Things that the director should have attended to:

  • The fighting. Too fake. Even IF I don’t know anything about fighting, it seriously got on my nerves that they should’ve done better with that. They had to fake fight, but at least make it look real. The lamest part was seeing how Leon was tossed into the boxes after he fled and was chased down by Wen’s henchmen. Then there was the fight. It was like they were afraid of getting hurt or was just playing with one another. Too fake. Sure, Leon tried to look fierce and the others tried to look like they were beating him but it was like not enough intensity. They should’ve put in some intense music to help the scene IF the guys weren’t doing so good with the whole thing. The sound effects might help a bit more.
  • Leon’s slouching. Oh no…he’s not anymore. It was too obvious that it was hard to miss. He has too much grace with his modeling background and/or a good posture so it was hard to slouch for him. He must have made an effort and can’t blame him too much for forgetting at times. BUT the director should’ve caught it. He doesn’t need to slouch when he was fierce and showing his gangster boss attitude, BUT I meant some parts here and there when he was seen as a lazy person or like he couldn’t care less about his behaviors.
  • The blood color is kind of fake. Yes, we should all know what blood looks like by now. In some scenes, it looked really fake. They should mix it better with whatever they’re using.

Compensations–YES, someone actually made the right decisions to make it work somehow, surprisingly, to make up for some other parts:

  • Letting Van tell the story. I don’t know. His voice is too addicting to listen to. Sincere yet was not too over with trying to impress. It was just right. Suitable for being the narrative voice in here. Also, when it was told from his POV, it made Leon’s character more mysterious in a sense.

  • The fight in the rain between Van and Xiu Jie Kai. This was how people fight. It looked intense enough and showed the emotions from both characters, making the scene more climatic. Then there was the whole confrontation with how Ah Hai was making the decisions for them and how unrealistic his dream was, etc. It was all tumbling out and how Ah Hai realized what Jake was saying was true. He was sinking his friends and not thinking about their real decisions or feelings. Though it was a righteous act with sticking together yet it was like what Jake said–not real. The others all had people they needed to care for and how their lives depended very much on the financial to make it happen. It wasn’t right or practical for Ah Hai to drag them through such fleeting dreams. The flashbacks were better in these scenes for some reason since the scenes were distinguishable enough–unlike some of the intro scenes that was hard to tell which was really which–unless you really paid attention. A really powerful scene indeed.

  • The fighting scene Ah Hao was engaged in while Ah Hai and the bands were performing at the Riverside Live House. It was an improvement from Leon’s various fight scenes, not by much but at least someone was paying attention to make it a tad better. They managed to make it a bit more fierce. Maybe the rain helped. Maybe the music helped. Not sure what but it was somewhat better than before. It could be Leon’s best fight scene in here.

Moral(s) to the story:

  • Read everything before you sign OR at least get someone who could read. Honestly, that was with all the trouble they were going through in the first place. Or at least with Ah Hai’s case and how his band got conned by that one record company. It was just too good to be true. Everything looked sooo suspicious. Yet they were desperate for some recognition–and money for some of their cases.

The music? Considering this was a music related theme, I should include the discussion and putting it last would be a better conclusion for this review. The only song that could be called a hit is “Rock All Night” by Van. I’m not bashing them but it’s the only catchy track since the rest seems to be the same somehow. But I do like the other songs in their own rights.

Recommended? NOT really for those of you who are too hype up about ‘quality’ versus it being ‘entertaining’. It was entertaining enough for me BUT not really my favorite because of those too obvious mistakes that I noticed throughout. There are probably more IF I ever make myself watch the 3rd time. (Second time was skimming around to get caps for this review.) Unless you’re a hardcore fan of Craze Band (Van and Ah Long) OR Leon, DON’T make yourself sit through it and complain. NOT to mention throwing your money out the door. I didn’t regret getting it because of Van and some of the cast, but that’s just showing support for them, not the production team. I usually love the production team more at times and appreciate them for their hard-working attitude, but it couldn’t be said the same this time. I’m sure the crew work hard BUT the director sank them all. He should’ve made better calls than that.

*All images were captured or scanned by DTLCT

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2 Replies to “Gangster Rock”

  1. Oh my god, was that Riverside Live House in that final music scene, where it is intercut with Hau fighting for his life in the car wrecker’s yard? I thought there was something familiar with it when a friend and I went there to see James and Jacky Chu in January.
    I totally agree about the sloppy editing, especially of the actions scenes. The opening sequences involving Leon Williams in car chase with police, intercut with some kind of gangster activity gone wrong, was confusing to the point of incomprehensibility. However, I thought the plot sagged in the middle, becoming too self-indulgent and far, far, too slow moving.
    I did enjoy Van’s singing and the songs were quite catchy. And I think Leon surprised a lot of viewers with how convincing he was as the coarse, tatooed thug.

  2. @vgag – Yes, that was the Riverside Live House since I managed to catch it when I saw the scene and then when I went back to do the caps. I made sure it was the correct one before putting it into reference for the review. Was it a ‘deja vu’ feeling that you couldn’t explain when you were there? LOL!

    And yes, that was some surprise with Leon’s character. Though I did read some spoilers ahead of time and saw the pictures but I was still surprise.

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