My friend Richard has lent me the VCD in the last week of 2006, has constantly raved about it, but it took me this long to finally pop it into the player. Not that I'm not heeding his recommendation, but a whole slew of events and bad time management prevented me from watching it in 2006. Nonetheless I just did, and boy, I've got no regrets watching it!
Of late, there have been many movies which hit the VCD/DVD shelves without having a whiff at the theatres. My Name is Fame is one of them, starring HK veteran actor Lau Ching Wan in a role all too familiar with the has-beens of the industry. He plays Fai, an actor who doesn't compromise his acting beliefs, and doesn't mince his words when it comes to criticizing the industry - be it fellow actors, directors, the scripts, and even the crew. His ideal morals on the state of the industry are subtle digs at the real deal, in an industry where looks are championed over true abilities. It is no wonder that, without being blessed with idol looks, and given his attitude, he soon finds himself in the doldrums of the industry despite being an award winning actor. Yes, both the industry and the public are fickle creatures.
While helping his ex-wife, he chances upon an ingénue Faye (played by Chinese actress Huo Si-Yan), who impresses him with her raw talent and energy, coupled with a gung ho spirit. Without a doubt, he unwittingly takes her under his wing, becoming her manager, honing her craft, as well as seeking out true, genuine opportunities for his protege, nevermind if they happen to be bit roles, in a field where sleaze is part and parcel of the game plan. Highly protective of his charge, he finds it increasing dangerous as his emotions get the better of him, and he starts to develop feelings for her.
Sounds familiar? Yes actually, the basic plot followed similarly to 2005 Korean Movie Innocent Steps, where a has-been wallowing in self pity looks to a rising star, grooming her for greater heights, at the same time rediscovering oneself and one's passion, while at the same time falling in love. However, for movie buffs, this one would tickle your funny bone at the same time as Fai unleashes his barbs against those in the industry. Some concerns highlighted were familiar grounds, especially those on sleaze, while others are reflective pieces about the current state of things.
Making plenty of appearances here in the movie are has-beens themselves, or rather, those that have taken a backseat and faded slowly from the limelight, like Ekin Cheng and the Grasshoppers. See if you can spot many more actors and premise of movies adapted and put on screen here. But the gig belonged to Lau Ching Wan in his earnest portrayal, and the chemistry with co-star Huo Si-Yan is fabulous. Oh yes, having a pretty face helped loads too.
The film industry isn't all glamour. There are plenty of hard work put into making a movie, and for someone looking for that big break, a certain amount of luck, plenty of contacts, the willingness to start from the bottom and plough in lots of hard work, seem like a recipe for a chance at success. Then again, which career doesn't start off in a similar fashion?
Recommended stuff! The VCD comes with 2 audio tracks, one in Cantonese and the other in Mandarin, though I suspect that in the Cantonese track, Huo had her lines voiced over by someone else. It sure didn't sound natural.