Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.
This Taiwanese production concerns buddies Tai (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON's Chang Chen) and "Sleazy" Tsai (Jordan Chan Siu-chun), the former handsome and confident, the latter shy and withdrawn. Tsai has been corresponding with Flyindance, an ICQ penpal, and the two eventually decide to meet. Flyindance turns out to be Yang-yang (Ma Qian-shan), a beautiful and introspective young lady, who perfectly offsets Tsai's insecurities and lack of social grace. Tsai is infatuated but Yang-yang has a tragic secret that she will have to reveal to him eventually.
Ma Qian-shan (left) and Jordan Chan (right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Ma Qian-shan is quite charming (imagine a more subdued, slightly melancholy Theresa Lee Yee-hung back in her WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD days) and her disarming presence makes this highly predictable love story moderately engrossing. Unfortunately, the English translation is so maddeningly terrible, thoroughly undermining the screenwriter's intent in almost every exchange, one is tempted to not even bother reading the subtitles after a while. Almost equally baffling is the logic behind hiring performers like Jordan Chan and Hsu Chi (who receives star billing for a minor supporting role as a girl Tai longs for, a subplot that never rings true), who possess such unique, instantly recognizable deliveries, and then not having them dub their own voices on either version. The cinematography is adept, providing a number of truly lovely images, and director Chin Guo-chao is able to convey the proper mood in most scenes. However, until a better translated version surfaces (allowing the film more in the way of subtlety and substance), FLYIN DANCE comes across as a routine weepie that barely rates a passing mark.