Wong Fu Productions reminds me of why I love and support independent short films. So, I’d like to appreciate them more by making a Top 5 list of which videos are the best among the seemingly hundred or so they have in their repertoire nowadays.
I went through some more Wong Fu videos today just to make sure of my choices. I haven’t seen every single video or series, but I hope that I have seen enough to make a fair list. Perhaps I knew from the beginning how this list would unfold. Still, it’s always fun to put these in order and give credit to where it is due. Which means I have one “jury prize” to give:
-HK: The One Days
I couldn’t pick one of these that would make the Top 5. “Two True” is good, as well as the newer “Lost to Luck”. I wanted to highlight my appreciation for these videos by at least mentioning them, even though they won’t make the final cut.
#5: “Forever Endless Valentine of my Winter Heart”
It’s hard not to watch this and laugh. It’s not just the humor that makes this video work so well, as there are countless other funny Wong Fu videos. It’s the video’s ability to capture in less than four minutes the essence of what Korean dramas tend to do. I’m no expert on Korean (or even Japanese) dramas, but I was studying Korean and into K-dramas at the time this video was released, which helped make a lasting impression. The video could have ended with the only line in English, being, “You guys have to calm down.” But it goes on to seal the deal at this #5 spot with the theme song for this (fake) drama. The title itself is hilarious in its own right. I am not sure what overcame them to make this video, but I am glad they did. And while all of the other videos on this list have some humor elements in them, I’m glad that I can have a video on this list that is purely comedy.
#4: “Strangers, again”
This movie is a reminder of why I fell in love with Wong Fu in the first place. They have a very interesting take on how Americans look at relationships. You sometimes want to yell at these characters to stop them from saying stupid stuff that breaks down their relationship. That is a big part of it. It shows how relationships can go down, and sometimes very quickly. The movie highlights the supposed stages of relationships, and while it runs over 15 minutes, it doesn’t feel too long. There’s not much I can say about this movie except that it is certainly worthy of this list.
It’s hard to get dialogue to work 100% of the time. However, this movie does such a great job of developing a very specific conversation and visual arc that you’ll forgive a few moments of corny dialogue to savor what this movie ends up delivering. The movie only takes us away once from these main characters to show a dream sequence, of sorts, that truly is breathtaking. This movie is short but makes its point rather well.
#2: “Just a Nice Guy”
This was the first Wong Fu video that I saw. With the fantastic opening that sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the video, the once three-part video highlights the attributes that makes Wong Fu such a great group. They label this video as a drama on their website, instead of comedy. I’d probably agree that it’s more of a drama than a comedy, but it still had a good sense of humor and a certain charm to its characters. There’s the girl that the main character “really didn’t like” who ends up providing some helpful advice when the two aren’t going at each other. There’s the main character’s best friend who gives some advice that proves to be not so helpful. And then there is the girl that this movie is about. A lot of this movie is told in first-person, where we hear a lot from our main character’s own development. While it may borderline on wordy to some, it seemed to work well for this movie, and I was loving every minute of this movie. Some of the set-ups are obvious, but the payoff is so sweet that you will forget some of those and enjoy what is here.
#1: “At Musing’s End”
Now, in 2013, this video may actually seem old. Perhaps it is a lot of newer content that pushes back the supposed older content such as this video. This is perhaps the most restrained film from Wong Fu, as there isn’t as much dialogue as in most Wong Fu films. The dialogue that is present helps to whimsically move this piece along in a very deliberate manner. There is much symbolism in this movie, such as a coin that the main character twirls, to the camera that Adam carries constantly. There are also some spectacularly interesting scenes, such as the first meeting between the girl and Adam, which takes place inside of a train that we never see. In fact, we never see any part of their first encounter. It is hardly necessary. As the next scenes unfold, we learn more about the beginnings of their relationship.
It is quite interesting to have most of this story told from the perspective of this girl (Robin) who we also get to know throughout the movie about as much as Adam. While there is little dialogue, the movie does well with much visual storytelling. Robin throws what appears to be flower petals at Adam in what seems to be a simple case of Adam being late and making her a little frustrated. The helmet that she tries on for a moment has no specific reason behind it being in the film, but it gives the movie (and the scene) a genuine feel. Some later scenes in the film remind us that storytelling doesn’t mean showing the audience everything as it happens. The scene at what might be a hospital demonstrates this idea that we can just hear from what ‘happened’ in a simple conversation.
I could go on about how this movie does so many things right in terms of good filmmaking. You simply have to experience this movie. I haven’t even gotten to the ending, which makes you want to watch the whole movie again. This movie is almost too deep, and yet all of it is finished in 20 minutes. This movie is definitely worth a watch. I will leave one final note, which is that this movie is so visually and musically oriented, it’s hard to remember that it was only uploaded in 360p. It felt like an HD movie five years ago-it is a testament to how beautifully shot the movie was. Here’s hoping that they will re-release this video in HD or on Blu-Ray (or at least DVD…).