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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hysterical Short Film "Chinese Hi-Five" a Great DVD Bonus!

"CHINESE HI-FIVE" (2014)
Length- 7:32
Company: Yellow Sun Films
Website: Starting from Scratch


"Chinese Hi-Five" is a simple boy meets girl story, but incorporates a clever, anti-"love at first sight" perspective.  James Huang wrote, directed and starred in this picture, taking on the role of Jake Lew, a young man living his life when suddenly a girl named Heidi (Jae W. Suh) quite forcibly inserts herself into his life.  At first, he's OK with this -- she's gorgeous, she's his age, and she's obviously looking for a boyfriend.  Things seem to be going along well, but then . . .

Well, I'll leave it to you to watch and see the hilarious results.

I'M NOT DESPERATE

Different forms work better for different mediums, and comedy naturally lends itself to the short film.  Good comedy does not outstay its welcome -- that's why a lot of times, you'll notice that the trailer of a feature length film is more funny than the film itself.

"Chinese Hi-Five" is a bonus short on the DVD of the feature length romantic comedy, Starting from Scratch.  A lot of times, the bonuses on DVD's (especially these days, after the overindulgent turn of the Millennium DVD releases) seem extra, unnecessary and barely good enough for a single viewing.

"Chinese Hi-Five", I am happy to report, is NOT one of those bonuses.



 
A BIG BANG

The strength of this picture is in the cast.  Huang and Suh play wonderfully off each other and really act like PEOPLE, not like actors woodenly reciting lines like so many other short films.  Suh in particular steals the show, playing her role to the hilt, delivering so many laugh out loud lines fast and furious. 

The production values are boosted thanks to primarily exterior locations.  It helps to open up the picture, make it seem more like lives on display and less like "We're trying to make a movie at Grandma's house". 

That being said, there's not a whole lot going on beneath the surface.  There's nothing to make you think about the picture beyond the comedy, which IS funny, very funny in fact, but once the running time finishes, that's IT.  Thematically the film is empty.

Some films, however, are not meant to be intellectual, or need to ask probing questions.  Huang knew exactly what he wanted out of his actors and out of the story, and he delivers on all fronts, creating a more than effective comedy that is worth watching and sharing on Facebook.

OVERALL SCORES

Writing: 3.5 / 5.  Huang's dialogue is spot on and felt realistic and not forced.  It is extremely one note though, with really one joke being extended for the entire run time.  Considering it's seven and a half minutes long, it works. 
Directing: 3 / 5.  Effective, and nothing on camera detracts from the viewing experience.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The transitions between scenes were done extremely well and each scene went as long as it was supposed to.  The movie never dragged.
Sound/Music: 2 / 5.  I don't remember anything special about the music, but I also don't remember thinking negatively about it.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Huang and Suh's performances MADE this film what it is.  Both deliver their lines well and have obvious chemistry.  I didn't give this a perfect score however, because some of Huang's facial expressions seemed too on the nose for me.  I'm picky, though.

Final Grade: 3.9 / 5.



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!