The biggest box-office hit in Taiwan (tái wān 台湾) last year, costing NT$50 million (US$1.5 million) to make, Cape No. 7 (Hǎi jiǎo qī hào 海角七号) is a 2008 Taiwanese romance comedic music drama film written and directed by Wei Tesheng (wèidé shèng 魏德圣), his first full-length motion picture. the movie became a big hit in Taiwan after debuting in August. By October, it had taken in more than NT$400 million at the box office, second only to the worldwide blockbuster "Titanic" in Taiwan’s cinematic history. Before its commercial release, the film was world premiered on June 20, 2008 at the 2008 Taipei Film Festival as the opening film. The film later won 3 awards in this festival.
60 years ago, 7 unsent love letters, and old address that no longer exists, the title "Cape No. 7" refers to the address of a Hengchun (héng chūn 恒春) girl who fell in love with a Japanese man. But he was forced to leave after Japan was defeated in World War II and ended its colonial rule of Taiwan in 1945. The film is a love story in Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese with significant lines in Japanese.
Plot In the 1940s, when Taiwan was a Japanese colony, a Japanese teacher who was dispatched to the southernmost town of Hengchun fell in love with a local girl with the Japanese name Kojima Tomoko (xiǎo dǎo yǒu zǐ 小岛友子). After the Surrender of Japan, he was forced to return to his home. On his trip home, he penned seven love letters to express his regret for leaving Kojima Tomoko, even though they had originally planned to elope. The love letters, however, were hidden for 60 years before they finally reached Tomoko.
More than 60 years after he left Kojima Tomoko, Aga (ā jiā 嘉) is introduced as a struggling young Hengchun-native rock band singer who could not find success in Taipei (台北). After returning to his hometown, Aga's step father, the Town Council Representative, arranged a position for him as a postman, replacing the aging Old Mao (mào bó 茂伯), on leave after a motorcycle accident. One day, Aga comes across an undeliverable piece of mail which was supposed to be returned to the sender: the daughter of the now deceased Japanese teacher has decided to mail the unsent love letters to Taiwan after discovering them. Aga unlawfully keeps and opens the package to discover its contents, but the old Japanese-style address Cape No. 7, Hengchun County can no longer be found.
Meantime a local resort hotel inside Kenting National Park (kěn dīng gōng yuán 垦丁公园) is organizing a beach concert featuring Japanese pop singer Kousuke Atari (zhōng xiào jiè 中孝介), but Aga's step father makes use of his official position to insist that the opening band be composed of locals. Tomoko, an over-the-hill Mandarin-speaking Japanese fashion model dispatched to Hengchun, is assigned the difficult task of managing this hastily assembled band, led by Aga along with six other locals of rather particular backgrounds.
After a frustrating trial period, Aga and Tomoko unexpectedly begin a relationship. With some assistance from hotel maid Mingchu (míng zhū明珠), who is revealed to be Kojima Tomoko's granddaughter, Tomoko helps Aga find the rightful recipient of the seven love letters. Tomoko then tells Aga that she plans on returning to Japan after the concert because of a job offering. After returning the seven love letters, a heartbroken but determined Aga returns to the beach resort and performs a highly successful concert with his local band alongside Kousuke Atari.
Cast Van Fan (fàn yì chén 范逸臣): Aga (ā jiā 阿嘉).
The band's lead singer. Hengchun native who recently returned to the town after failing to find success in Taipei. Chie Tanaka Tomoko (tián zhōng qiān huì 田中千绘): Tomoko (友子Yǒuzǐ).
Japanese model and agent assigned to organize the local band. Before filming, Chie Tanaka had been staying in Taiwan for 15 months to study Chinese so she did not have major problems dealing with the Chinese lines in the film.
Kousuke Atar: Japanese teacher in flashback scenes/himself in the present.
Prior to this film, the two leading actors Van Fan and Chie Tanaka only had minor acting experience while some of the supporting roles were filled by non-actors. Even without a strong promotional campaign, the film had become so popular in Taiwan
Highlight Even for the hardest action film fan, they might find their heart touched by the romantic and dreamy "Cape No. 7". This excellent movie even upstaged "The Dark Knight" when it released and is apparently on its way to outdo "Titanic" as the top-grossing movie of all time in its native Taiwan. One's heart need to open to really experience it so that we can understand this amazing fact.
This movie gives the audience a comfortable and easy ride. From the post war era to the present (and everything in between), the story is weaved so nicely and you find yourself rooting for the people in the film effortlessly. Throughout the film, a lot of characters were introduced. From the ordinary fisherman on the street to the lead actor, you won't forget any of them. They're memorably unique and they tend to remind you of someone you might know.
The inspiration for Cape No. 7 came in July 2004 when director Wei read a report about a postman who successfully delivered a piece of mail addressed in the old Japanese style: the sender was the former Japanese employer of the recipient. Wei decided to make a film based on this story, in the hopes of financing his long-awaited epic film Seediq Bale, which had problems securing financial interest.
Wei said he picked Hengchun as the film's setting due to its richness in contrasts: mountains along with beaches; the old towns near the modern resort hotels; the aging population with the young working in Taipei; the diversified demographics with Hoklo, Hakka, Mainlanders, Taiwanese aborigines, and international tourists; the weather variation between the tropical southern Taiwan and the snow-laden Japan. Wei believed that such a setting would provide the ideal backdrop for the "harmony in diversity" theme of Cape No. 7.
The movie was filmed between September and November 2007 in Hengchun. The final scene presenting the Japanese teacher and other Japanese people leaving Taiwan by ship was filmed in an abandoned brewery. The film's 133 minute theatrical version was edited from the first cut of 160 minutes. Aga and Tomoko's love scene was shortened, and some of their dialog before the love scene was cut as well.
Reception Taiwan Although the film only attracted moderate box-office success during its first weeks of release, it was helped by strong word of mouth buzz, mainly in blogs, eventually leading to its record-breaking box-office performance.
Critics attribute the film's box office success to its honest depiction of the rural southern Taiwan; the strong emotional resonance among older viewers; the humorous tone, optimistic characters, and musical performances.
Many audiences are touched by the love story in the film. However, more locals are moved by the rationales delivered by the film. These rationales include Taiwan identity issues, local changes and stories behind these changes, and folk cultures BOT issues of Taiwan's natural scenes and mountain forests draw attention to audiences. As poiesis says:
"BOT in mountain natural forests, BOT in beaches…We are being BOTed."
"Why is the beautiful beach surrounded with barriers by the hotel owner? Why as local residents, can we not enjoy the beach?"
"Why is it that the beach can only be seen by tourists?"
The film gathered widespread attention at the 2008 Pusan International Film Festival where its broadcasting rights were successfully sold to Hong Kong; South Korea; Malaysia and Brunei, through Astro Entertainment Sdn Bhd and All Asia Multimedia Network, both subsidiaries of Malaysian pay-TV group Astro All Asia Networks; and Singapore. The Hong Kong release date was on November 20, 2008 and the film ranked first during its first week of release. Local critics found this film "civil, humorous, and friendly".
Music When it comes to Taiwanese film, music is always an important part. Cape No. 7 , a Taiwanese romance comedic music-drama film, there is no exceptions. Blending with a most romantic soundtrack and the regretful tone of a Japanese narration, it makes the whole movie appear like a seamless epic pictorial of still photographs. Just imagine those sepia toned photographs from your grandmother's closet, only with music and voiceover whenever you take them out. Approaching its finale, you can't help but to slightly tap your feet and be swayed away with the songs. You will still celebrate and truly cherish the human spirit, for in this movie you will be handsomely rewarded for daring to dream.
Awards and Nominations Win
2008 Taipei Film Festival
Best Cinematography (Ting-chang Chin)
Taipei Million Grand Award
Best Audience Award
2008 Asian Marine Film Festival
2008 Hawaii International Film Festival
Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Narrative
2008 Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival
Best Cinematography (Ting-chang Chin)
2008 Golden Horse Award
Best Supporting Actor (Ju-Lung Ma)
Best Original Film Score (Fred Lu, Lo Chi-Yi)
Best Original Film Song (Matthew Yen, Tseng Chih-Hao, Van Fan)
The Audience Choice Award
The Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year
The Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year (Wei Te-Sheng)
3rd Asian Film Awards
The Edward Yang New Talent Award(Wei Te-sheng)
9th Chinese Film Media Award
The Juries' Special Award
2008 Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival Best Director (Wei Te-Sheng)
Best Asian Film
2008 Golden Horse Award Best Feature Film
Best Director(Wei Te-Sheng)
Best New Performer(Chie Tanaka, Johnny C.J. Lin)
Best Cinematography(Ting-chang Chin)
Best Sound Effect(Tu Duu-Chi)
2008 Festival International du film asiatique de Vesoul Asian Feature Film
28th Hong Kong Film Awards
Best Asian Film