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See You in You Tube

  See You in You Tube   See You in You Tube

(left) Siu Fei and Janice Man, and (right) Maggie Lee, Elanne Kong, Zoie Tam, and James Ho.

Chinese: 愛鬥大  
Year: 2008  
Director: Seven's
Producer: Oxide Pang Chun

Elanne Kong Yeuk-Lam, Janice Man, Him Law, Maggie Li, Zoie Tam Hoi-Kei, Siu Fei, Tommy Yuen Man-On, Gladys Fung Ho-Sze, James Ho Seung-Him, Karu Chan Ka-Lo, Sam Wong Cham-Sam, Race Wong Yuen-Ling, Stephen Gan Fock-Wai

The Skinny: It's easy to like the idea behind See You in You Tube, and the film possesses an energy and low-budget verve that are initially fun. However, it's easy to hate the film's non-existent characters and cliched themes, which grow increasingly irritating as the film progresses. The result: a movie that should be on You Tube.
by Kozo:

If You Tube and Hell were synonyms, then See You in You Tube would be the most perfectly titled film ever. See You in You Tube is a fun little film experiment that goes horribly awry, squandering the enormous amount of goodwill it receives for being low budget, energetic and offbeat. Oxide Pang produced this film school wet dream: a single film made by seven directors, including four student filmmakers plucked from Hong Kong's local film programs. Called "Seven's", the seven filmmakers collaborate to tell the high-concept tale of a bunch of kids enrolling in an impromptu film class. At the center of the group are Janice (Janice Man) and Ling (Elanne Kong), two lifelong friends who find themselves competing over nearly anything and everything. Their new competition comes with a particular prize: Him (Law Chung-Him), a studly film student who makes his mark on each girl in manufactured fashion. Janice spies Him lifting someone's wallet on the bus, while Ling catches Him actually stealing her wallet. However, during the ensuing chase, he saves her from a beating from a triad, so she changes her mind about him and infatuation blossoms.

Him gets away with Ling's wallet, but that's neither here nor there, because his criminal activity is soon swept under the rug by the filmmakers themselves. Him is in need of money for a mysterious reason, and decides to teach film class to make some dough. Both Janice and Ling catch on and enroll to stalk him, of course ignoring the fact that he's a two-bit thief who committed crimes in front of their pretty little eyes. Their rivalry for Him's attentions soon becomes obvious to the entire class, which is made up of some attractive and not-so-attractive friends, some would-be boyfriends (both Ling and Janice have puppy-dog suitors who follow them to the class), and a couple of people who apparently know kung-fu. After seeing the girls get all hot-and-bothered, Him and his cousin have a brilliant idea: why not get the girls to compete on screen in their new, shot-on-video movie? There's also an ulterior motive to Him's plan, but that's not revealed until the end of the film, so let's pretend that the plot really matters and not reveal spoilers.

The girls immediately agree to Him's offer, and go about enlisting the rest of the class into teams to shoot Him's new flick, which turns out to be a combination of "Jackass" and "Fear Factor". Yes, you read that correctly. Basically, Him makes each team take part in extreme, unscripted challenges, while shooting the events to see what transpires. Among the challenges: the group must steal food from other people's plates in a local cafe, engage in a market-set kung-fu fight, attend a funeral and sing a song to see who lasts the longest without getting beaten up, and, funniest of all, show up in a location and complete a task while wearing a ski mask and carrying a real-looking toy machine gun. Those tasks happen to be winning a game at a mahjong parlor - not the safest place to screw around, mind you - plus buying a $1000 necklace in a jewelry store. That's right, one of the crew must enter a jewelry store in a ski mask while carrying a machine gun, and actually request to buy a necklace. As most jewelry stores in Hong Kong are guarded by guys with shotguns, that's obviously a dangerous idea.

The sequence is surprisingly entertaining, and possesses an offbeat, edgy humor and local flavor that one would hope extends to the rest of the film. That creative energy does show up in random spurts, with some throwaway gags and concepts proving to be worth a smile or laugh. The film is buoyed by its low-budget style, with the handheld camera and shot-on-video roughness giving the film an edgy and independent verve. See You in You Tube is obviously cheap stuff, but considering the filmmaker pedigree and lack of money or experienced actors, it manages a winning street-level cred that far more polished productions could never hope for. Good film isn't all about the creation of a perfect-seeming product; sometimes effort and honesty should be rewarded too, and judging by the unpolished, earnest resources put into See You in You Tube, one feels required to hold it to a different standard than The Warlords or CJ7. When production values are concerned, we judge on a sliding scale.

However, no amount of good will can erase a film's narrative shortcomings, which start small in See You in You Tube and ultimately snowball into an intolerable collection of clichés and ludicrous plot developments that could alienate even the most film school-friendly of viewers. The film develops tension by putting the kids through a variety of challenges that could cause bodily harm, if not actual death, and for some reason the kids actually go along with it. They grouse and complain about Him's crazy challenges, but eventually fall in line to possibly be shot by a security guard or fall from a rooftop. Though amusing at first, the continued inanity raises this question: why would anyone in their right mind participate in such flagrantly illegal and even life-threatening activities when they have nothing to gain? A film could still have been made with this concept had the screenwriters (all seven of them) actually come up with a smarter premise, but the way things play out, everyone just goes along for the hell of it. Him is not so charismatic that he should be able to persuade people to risk life and limb, and indeed, he's not even present to shoot over half of his insane challenges. Why then, is anyone even participating in his crazy movie?

Perhaps the answer is "love", but if so, the filmmakers can't convince that any love is so strong as to make people risk death - especially in such suicidal ways as playing tug-of-war on a rooftop ledge. See You in You Tube intercuts its narrative with odd interview segments where each of the characters talks about their experiences, discoveries, or realizations about love and friendship. Presumably, it's supposed to tie into the film's actual action, and some obvious connections exist. However, the interview sequences are merely wannabe meaningful lip service that regurgitate the same gooshy musings about love and friendship that you've probably seen in thirty other youth films. Combined with the film's biggest twist - a hoary cliché that could induce groaning, if not audience rebellion - and you have a film that proves unconvincing and ultimately irritating. See You in You Tube is a movie that should be easy to like because it's irreverent and independent enough that one won't go in with the greatest of expectations. And indeed, for some of the time, the film delivers on its humorous premise with a likable energy. But in the end, the filmmakers give the film too much assumed meaning without expending any of the required sweat - like perhaps giving the script enough sense to support its slopped-on sentimentality. I've seen better stuff on You Tube, and chances are that you have, too. (Kozo 2008)

Notes: See You in You Tube features a cameo from Stephen Gan Fock-Wai, the owner of White Flower Oil, a popular analgesic remedy. Gan is popular because he's both the owner and the company pitchman for White Flower Oil, acting and singing in numerous advertisements for his products. Also, in October 2007, Gan was arrested for the alleged sexual harrassment of a male taxi driver, meaning his cameo earns piles of unearned laughter in local cinemas. Trivia is good for you.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Deleted Scenes, Premiere Footage

images courtesy of Universe Entertainment Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen