Forever Young/Zhi Zi Hua Kai/栀子花开 (Film Review)

What can go wrong, right?

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Characters:

  • Li Yi Feng as Xu Nuo
  • Zhang Hui Wen as Yan Xi
  • Jiang Jin Fu as An Di
  • Wei Da Xun as Zhang Zai Cang
  • Zhang Yun Long as Wei Ge

Details:

  • Chinese/Mainland
  • Release date: July 10, 2015
  • Running time: 107 minutes
  • Language: Mandarin

Quick Rundown:

A group of boys led by Xu Nuo decides to learn Swan Lake as their graduation performance in honor of friends who could no longer take the stage. Along the way Xu Nuo must deal with the possibility of losing his love, Yan Xi, his band mates and his musical career. What is more important? Can he have it all?

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ESTELLE’S TAKE

As famed MC, He Jiong’s directing debut, Forever Young left a lot to be desired. The premise was simple – a couple of college students who are into dance and music, throw in some grandiose dreams about “makin’ it” it and a few men in ballerina outfits, what could go wrong, right? I mean, there’s humor, there’s love, there’s friendship – it all seemed like it would be the perfect young adult romcom, but don’t get your hopes up.

First of all, while the bromance between the guys in this movie is relatively strong friendship beyond them barely exist. About ten minutes in, Yan Xi’s three ballet dancing besties are killed off in a random car accident on her birthday to boot. I was just about to learn who’s who before tragedy struck and they walked their last on screen. Yan Xi shows some reaction by running away from the hospital (and her best friends’ crying families), but that’s about it. Yes, she dances EXTRA hard in honor of her friends, but it felt like such a front. Besides, her dancing hard was merely a device to get her to fall off the stage so she can break her leg. And why did she need to break her leg? So the boys – who have NO dance background – can learn Swan Lake in memory of the girls of course! Because that makes so much sense.

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From the lack of a sensible plot to the bad acting, there was nothing that could have saved it. Yes, I understand I must suspend some disbelief, but even if the boys can get Swan Lake down in a couple of weeks, there were just too many scenes that felt forced. It’s like He Jiong spent an evening watching romantic films and every time he saw a good scene he decided to add it to his script. Dude, it doesn’t work that way!

Needless to say, the whole thing felt contrived. Top it off with a teacher who won’t do her job properly (she refuses to tell Yan Xi that the latter did not get into a prestigious ballet school in Paris and leaves Xu Nuo to deliver the bad news), and a rival band with a creepy band leader who is constantly stalking Xu Nuo, you have got yourself one crappy movie. I have no idea why any of the cast thought this was a good movie to star in. Maybe they got paid well.

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This & That:

  • Some scenes were filmed in Thailand, but I have no idea which because the story had no “abroad” arc.
  • Li Yi Feng became famous after placing eighth in a Chinese TV singing competition (other winners include Jing Bo Ran, Liang Qiao Ren aka rumored bf of Xu Lu). He was recently in equally bad TV series The Lost Tomb, but luckily he had Legend of Fragrance to maintain his popularity.
  • Zhang Hui Wen shot to fame after appearing in 2013 Zhang Yi Mou film, Coming Home, opposite big time stars Chen Dao Ming and Gong Li. She supposedly brought the script of Forever Young to Zhang Yi Mou for review, but I’m not sure any editing was done. She also gave away her first on-screen kiss in this movie.
  • Jiang Jin Fu joined the entertainment industry after being discovered on He Jiong’s show Happy Camp in 2010. He has since been in One and a Half Summer with Nichkun and the failed sequel of Bu Bu Jing Xin called Bu Bu Jing Qing. He gave away his first on-screen kiss in new series The Adventure for Love which premiered on 1/20.
  • Zhang Yun Long graduated from Beijing Film Academy and was selected to be a part of film V Love with Yang Mi. He is going to star in new romcom movie Pride and Prejudice later this year.

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