The manager of the recruitment agency recognized her immediately and refused to assign her a maid. Ye Lanqiu’s face (Yuan Yuan Gao) had been all over the TV news, papers, everywhere. Although what she did was hardly a crime she was being treated worse than a criminal. The woman screamed at Ye loud enough for people to hear. Soon a small mob formed by the door. Suddenly dozens of them had their cellphones and tablets out shooting pictures of her wanting to capture this ‘internet star’. Yang Shoucheng (Mark Chao) tries to save her pulling her away from the mob. They get to the car and drive away, but not before dozens of photos are taken of them together in the vehicle starting yet another wave of Internet posts and speculation.
CAUGHT IN THE WEB is only one of the titles you can watch for free in the 9th Spring Film Festival at Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall. It will run from February 13-22, 2015. Aimed to promote Chinese language and culture in mainstream Filipino society the line up is composed of works from great Chinese directors along with other flicks across the genres.
Directed by Chen Kaige, CAUGHT IN THE WEB shows a very modern China that has out grown its traditional past. The latest work is a departure from the Cannes award winning work FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE (1993) and even FOREVER ENTHRALLED both of which are period pieces. FOREVER ENTHRALLED starring Leon Lai and Zhang Zhi Yi was also shown in Spring Film fest in 2011. Zhang likewise stars in THE GRANDMASTER with Tony Leung directed by Wong Kar Wai and is part of the fest as well.
This latest film however still has that trademark of complex human relationships. Love that is true more often than not in Chen’s work is doomed to fail in tragedy. The real power of Chen Kaige’s work is being able to eloquently visualize these complex relationships through film. CAUGHT IN THE WEB is no exception.
More than any in the past Spring Film Fests this showcases how China has progressed economically. With it are morphing and changing values. We see the billionaire in Shen Liushu played by the veteran actor Xueqi Wang. Successful businessmen (dare we say capitalists) like him are the new emerging face of China. Gone are the days when Mao praised the farmers of the fields and the laborers of the factories. Xueqi Wang is one of the more able character actors that director Chen Kaige relies on. Wang played the grand old opera master Shi Sanyan in FOREVER ENTHRALLED.
The story very clearly also dispels the long held image of media in China as being safe and as state controlled propaganda machine. There seems to be a more emboldened and enterprising breed of broadcasts journalists, which have a lot of power in deciding which stories to feature on air. Although no one was openly criticizing the Communist Party, still this is light years ahead of anything anyone outside of China could have ever imagined.
Chen Ruoxi is the aggressive, sometimes manipulative TV News producer willing to do anything to get the meaty story she wants. She is played by the stunning Chen Yao.
The trouble begins when Ye Lanqiu refuses to give up her seat in bus to an old man, after a particularly difficult and traumatic day. Out of sheer frustration she tells off the old man when the ticket inspector yells at her to give up the seat. Unfortunately the whole thing is shot on video with a cellphone. When Ruoxi gets a hold of the video she immediately airs it on the evening news. A whole wave of Internet users demonizes Ye for not giving up her seat.
As film audiences are aware of the background stresses of Ye’s life, one could easily understand how and why she reacted that way. We can see how China’s 800 million strong internet users can just be as vicious and judgmental as any ‘democratic’ society.
Lead actress Yuan yuan Gao has achieved fame for her TV series HEAVENLY SWORD AND DRAGON SABRE (2003), TIAN XIA DI YI (2005) and the more recent ZAN MEN JIE HUN BA (2013). But she has become one of Chinese Cinema’s hot actresses with a role in ROBIN B HOOD with Jackie Chan and the romantic hit BUT ALWAYS with Nicholas Tse shot in China and New York.
Yuan yuan has a sweet face and a body not necessarily of a vixen, rather girl next door. Which makes her even more sympathetic when all the disparaging comments on line and on air are heaped upon her.
One of the major cast members here is Mark Chao, who Yuan yuan recently tied the knot with in 2014. There does seem to be this weird chemistry between them, a romance that is not explicitly dealt with in the film. Hong Chen the actress who plays the wife of billionaire Shen Liushu is also the wife of director Chen Kaige in real life.
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