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Bad Girls
Bad Girls

Mike He and Ella in Bad Girls.
Chinese: 女孩壞壞
Year: 2012
Director: Weng Jingting
Cast: Ella, Mike He, Ivy Lin Ying-Zhen, Beatrice Fang Chi-You, Chris Wang You-Sheng, Jack Kao, Pan Li-Li, Wu Pao-Chun, Bi Xiao-Hai, Kitamura Toyoharu, Ying Wei-Min, Pang Chin-Yu
The Skinny: Pay attention to the first word in the title. Bad Girls is interminable and inept, and the stars do little more than play variations on their TV drama personas. A waste of your time unless you have a shrine for either Ella or Mike He in your bedroom. At least the locations are pretty.
by Kozo:

Taiwan idol dramas meet their big screen Waterloo with the well-produced but near-intolerable romcom Bad Girls. Super-popular S.H.E. member Ella and non-threatening dreamboat Mike He star in this awful idol drama pastiche, about tough tomboy Ah Dan (Ella), leader of a squad of girls (called “Bad Girls,” natch) that disdains obnoxious men for their poor treatment of girls and even worse behavior. Key to Ah Dan’s endearing violent streak is some weak backstory about her father, who taught her to fight because she should defend herself from obnoxious guys. Also, Ah Dan is a huge fan of baked goods and goes all gooey when she smells her favorite spring onion bread. If you can find immediate meaning in these details, you deserve a prize.

Meanwhile, Mike He plays Justin, the “No. 1 Pop Idol in Asia.” Justin’s latest film is shooting in Ah Dan’s rural town, and when Ah Dan accidentally cripples the leading lady (By vaulting onto her in the gymnasium – comedy!), Justin decides to install Ah Dan as the new star. Say what? You mean nobody involved in the production beyond Justin’s taskmaster uncle (a slumming Jack Kao) has a problem with an untrained unknown starring in an actual motion picture? Not that it matters to Justin – his true dream is to be a baker like his father, who once taught him how to talk lovingly to bread dough. Ah Dan loves bread and Justin wants to make it, plus they’re co-starring in a movie and they’re of opposite sexes – hey, that’s Connect Four! Bad Girls: official proof that anyone can write a screenplay.

Despite the story’s lameness, Bad Girls could still work as vapid, anime-inspired fluff. The film’s silly tone, ridiculous details and innocent romance seem lifted from shojo manga, plus the violence is presented in over-exaggerated anime style. One of Ah Dan’s constant suitors gets rejected with animated sequences where she punches him and he flies into outer space before landing in Hawaii, the Middle East or even on the Moon (he always returns wearing culturally-clichéd outfits from those regions). The star-crossed romance, foodie inspiration, cookie-cutter side characters and hackneyed platitudes (Justin’s dream is, get this, “to find my true self”) are totally lame but also could work if this teen-aiming tripe were mounted with any sort of flair, wit or style. It’s been done before – just look at a million shojo anime for proof.

But it doesn’t happen here. Director Weng Jingting gets inspiration from idol dramas but without a strong story or the helpful TV structure (commercial breaks and 1-hour episodes means you have to pace smartly), the whole thing flounders with no direction. Plotlines appear and are forgotten, scenes are paced languidly and verbal exposition is the sole tool used to develop characters. Both Ella and Mike He turn in variations on previous quirky TV drama personas, which might be initially enjoyable to their fans, but neither actor gets the 10-plus episodes needed to make said quirks endearing or interesting. Ultimately, the best thing about Bad Girls is its rural Taiwan location, which seems genuinely charming and picturesque. As a tourism ad, Bad Girls does its job, but in every other way it fails. Even Mike He and Ella fans should feel bad about defending Bad Girls. (Kozo, 2012)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Deltamac (HK)
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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