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Au Revoir Taipei
Au Revoir, Taipei

Jack Yao and Amber Kuo cut a rug at the Eslite Bookstore in Au Revoir Taipei.
  Chinese: 一頁台北
Year: 2010  
Director: Arvin Chen  
Writer: Arvin Chen  

Amber Kuo, Jack Yao, Joseph Chang, Ko Yue-Lun, Chiang Kang-Che, Jack Kao, Frankie Gao, Peggy Zeng Pei-Yu, Vera Yan, Zeng Zi-Jian, Yang Si-Ping, Huang Yuan-Wen, Xia Jing-Lun, Wang Bo-Xuan, Tony Yang

  The Skinny:

Arvin Chen's Au Revoir Taipei is a winning little Valentine that's sure to please anyone who likes light, breezy, low-tension caper comedies. People looking for edgy or dark material should look elsewhere, naturally.

by Kozo:
Funny, pleasing and relaxing, Au Revoir Taipei is an utterly enjoyable journey into the not-so-perilous Taiwan night. Director Arvin Chen doesn’t weigh down his film with anything resembling pretension or meaning. This is a winning Valentine towards French comedies, crime capers, and above all effervescent cinema romance, where love is found suddenly, unexpectedly and brimming with hope. Au Revior, Taipei recently won the NETPAC/Asian Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival, which is proof of very little besides the fact that people liked this film. Honestly, you should like it too. If not, we give up on you.

Jack Yao stars as Kai, a go-nowhere youth who’s looking to head to Paris to follow his girlfriend, who only recently dumped him. To finance his trip, he gets involved in a “delivery” for local gang boss Frankie Gao, but as luck and cinema clichés would have it, everything goes wrong. The gang boss' fey nephew Hung (Ko Yue-Lun) attempts to steal the package, but ends up kidnapping Kai's dopey buddy Gao Gao (Chiang Kang-Che) instead. Meanwhile, bookstore clerk Susie (drama star Amber Kuo) finds herself along for the ride. Susie carries a minor torch for Kai, but Kai is oblivious, still lost in his own heartbreak. With Gao Gao in danger, a plainclothes cop (Joseph Chang) on their tail, and the clock slowly ticking towards a dawn deadline, can Kai and Susie save the day, or will death be in the offing?

Not a spoiler, but there is zero death in Au Revoir Taipei. The film dabbles in darkness but never detours there, with our heroes usually running in fear from people who are far less capable than they are. Arvin Chen makes this a low-tension crime caper, with dry comic laughs and minor slapstick in place of grandstanding gags and actual dark content. The characters are the highlights. Joseph Chang’s role is a change-of-pace for the handsome actor; he plays an amusingly sloppy cop who’ll shirk his duty just to moon over an ex-girlfriend. Just as fun is Ko Yue-Lun (Mahjong), as the nominally threatening but completely harmless villain. The show stealer is Chiang Kang-Che as the spacey Gao Gao, a lovably obtuse convenience store clerk who quietly admires his too-cute co-worker (Vera Yan). These are enjoyable cinema underdogs who are naturally likable or lovably despicable - that is, if your cinema is scored with light French Jazz and features bad guys who apologize for their misdeeds.

Technical credits here are aces, with the setting and cinematography capturing Taipei in an affectionate, attractive light. Though the story spells thriller, the film never strays from its friendly, amiable tone. Cameos from Tony Yang and Jack Gao add star power and acting cred. If Au Revior Taipei has a flaw, it would be that it's too inconsequential, and could easily be overlooked because it does nothing new or noteworthy. Also, the film suffers due to its lead characters being far less enjoyable than its supporting ones. Jack Yao is serviceable and bland, and seems a poor match for Amber Kuo, who’s much better as the film's heroine. She shines especially at the very end, where her quiet, lovely smile provides the perfect summation to this breezy, enjoyable little film. Au Revoir Taipei possesses simple, honest cinema joys, excelling only marginally while charming in spades. Spending time grousing about its flaws would only be curmudgeonly. (Kozo, reviewed at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2010)

  Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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