Diva, Ah Hey
Director: Joe Ma
Cast: Charlene Choi, Jordan Chan, Shawn Yu, Niki Chow
As every Asian cinema fan knows, Hong Kong film market is shrinking constantly, the number of production is getting lower and lower. But there is one filmmaker that didn't seem to be affected, and this is director Joe Ma. In the past six months, he has directed and produced about three to four feature movies, and most importantly, most of these films, including Diva, Ah Hey, were generally welcome by the audience and did pretty well at the box office. How did he manage to do that?
If you have seen any of his previous films, you'll probably agree that Joe Ma knows what the audience wants. Viewing from an artistic perspective, films like Feel 100% and Summer Breeze of Love are definitely not qualified in any aspects, but the box office results were extremely well. Why? Because this kind of movie is what the mainstream market demands, and certainly stardom effect is another critical factor that leads to the success of such films. In his latest work Diva, Ah Hey, Joe Ma basically reiterates this successful formula again. The protagonist is still portrayed by one of the most popular idols among the teenagers. Charlene Choi plays the role of Ah Hey, a young and naive girl who always dreams of being a singer. With the help of her father, she becomes an assistant in a star management company. Because of some conincidence, she ends up being the dubbing artist for pop idol Shadow (Niki Chow), whose singing voice is a disaster... This story seems to have drawn some inspirations from the 1952 Hollywood classic Singin' in the Rain, in which Debbie Reynolds also plays a similar "Ah Hey-alike" role. But Joe Ma was wise enough to renew this old plot by incorporating domestic and fashionable elements with it, so that it became a comedy for the Hong Kong audience in the 21st century.
The first half of the movie is quite interesting. Through Ah Hey's encounter in the star management company, we are exposed to the dark side of the business. But everything is treated in a comical and humorous way, most of these scenes are merely made to make you laugh, it is definitely not a caricature of any sort or supposed to mock anyone. Ah Hey's harsh experience may actually pose a warning for those kids who are always dreaming to be a star. Apart from the main plot of Ah Hey's encounter in the business, there are several sub-plots in this movie, which include Niki Chow and Shawn Yu's romance and Jordan Chan and Belinda Hon's affair. These two sub-plots are carried out quite effectively, especially the romance between Chow and Yu. Although their characters are not too well developed, the interactions of these two are captivating. It is something that makes you feel comfortable to watch, I was surprised to see how Joe Ma has totally subverted the usual play boy image of Yu and turned him into an innocent and cute young man. Nonetheless, one disappointment is that none of these sub-plots tend to work together as a whole. They function well in their respective moments, but when they are put together, they just don't seem to look very coherent or actually help the plot to advance smoothly. And just like many other typical Hong Kong movies, plotholes are still easy to spot. For instance, it is quite hard to believe how Ah Hey, a nobody that has no reputation at all, could have her image posted as big as the pop idol Shadow in Icy (Belinda Hon)'s concert poster...
Charlene Choi is as cute as usual. but don't expect anything new from her. In terms of the acting, it is just more or less the same Choi you see in Summer Breeze of Love or My Wife is 18. Jordan Chan as the reserved agent is very good. His stony face fits this role perfectly.
With a typical plot development and a highly forced happy ending, Diva, Ah Hey isn't something that will give you surprise. But Joe Ma is no doubt a master of packaging. He really knows his stuff. Once again, he demonstrated his exceptional talent and produced a movie that he knows the audience would love to watch.
Reviewed by: Kantorates