Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 17 News List

The problem with con artists

Chen Yin-jung's latest film 'Catch' brings a taste of contemporary Taiwan to the big screen



The scenario is familiar to local scam artists: a fraudster calls the victim pretending to be an abducted relative and asks for help. Taiwan has witnessed a steep rise in fraud in recent years as creative con artists try to stay one step ahead of the law.

After breaking local box office records with her debut movie Formula 17 (十七歲的天空) in 2004, the 25-year-old director Chen Yin-jung (陳映蓉), aka DJ Chen, has taken inspiration from local confidence tricksters and made the highly anticipated action/comedy flick Catch (國士無雙), which stars a troupe of pretty-faced idols including Tony Yang (楊佑寧), Tsuyoshi Abe (李振冬), Tien Hsin (天心) and King Chin (金勤).

Like Formula 17, Catch is a genre-driven movie that aims to give the audience two hours of pure entertainment and a few laughs. But unlike its predecessor, the movie follows a complicated plot that centers on a film extra named Gene (Tony Yang).

The film begins as rumors spread of a top fraudster's return to crime, which prompts the police to launch an investigation.

Gene is accidentally recruited by the police to work as an undercover agent probing a crime ring led by con artist Austin (played by the talented King Chin). The plot thickens when Austin disguises Gene as a rich entrepreneur in the hope of luring the mysterious top fraudster into working with the ring.

To add to the confusion, Gene's dream girl, anchorwoman JC Chang, enters the story and embarks on a bit of investigative journalism to uncover his past. Chased by the police, criminals and the girl, the happy-go-lucky film extra gradually puts together all the missing pieces of the puzzle for the grand finale.

There are plenty of jokes, action, suspense and romance in the film. The Japanese manga-type humor successfully elicits laughs from members of the audience, whereas the few action scenes appear awkwardly out of sync with the film's fast paced narration.

Film Notes:

Catch (國士無雙)

Directed by: Chen Yin-jung (陳映蓉)

Starring: Tony Yang (楊佑寧) as Gene, King Chin (金勤) as Austin, Tien Hsin (天心) as Star, Tsuyoshi Abe (李振冬) as Prince, Jaline Yeh (葉羿君) as JC Chang, Adriene Lin (林孟瑾) as Foxy Mink

Running time: 120 minutes

Taiwan Release: Today

Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles

The art design itself is worth a mention. Using bright, saturated color and fashionable interior design and furniture, the film ingeniously creates the con artists' imaginative playground.

Director Chen told the Taipei Times that she wanted to make a movie which local audiences could identify with.

"There hasn't been any local production which tells the story about what's happening in Taiwan today. So in Catch, we included a lot of elements related to daily life, such as the glare of the paparazzi and political corruption. The film is highly localized. We don't know how the international market will respond to it, but we'll worry about that later," Chen said.

When asked if she is worried how the movie will do after the huge success of Formula 17, DJ Chen struck a rather ambiguous note, saying "I have dreamed of watching the movie several nights in a row now ? I don't feel under pressure. The movie's budget is around NT$17 million, three times larger than that of Formula 17. All we wish for is to recoup the production costs." Judging from the refreshing performances given by all the leading actors, and the fast-paced storyline, Catch should be able to live up to Chen's expectation.

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