The DRUMMER | Movie Release, Showtimes & Trailer | Cinema Online
Movie Details

The DRUMMER

A movie that combines the stunning art of Chinese drumming with Triad dealings? This compelling story follows Sid, a reckless rascal who is raised in a Hong Kong triad family. He flees to Taiwan upon enraging a mob boss. Hiding out in the mountains, he encounters and joins a group of drummers whose mesmerising art, rigorous physical training, and austere way of life eventually transform him into an extraordinary young man. Sid`s independence from the triad life is profoundly challenged, however, when a twist of fate awaits him back home in Hong Kong and forces him to choose between loyalty to his family and his new found faith in himself.

Language: Mandarin
Subtitle: NA
Classification: U
Release Date: 15 Nov 2007
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 1 Hour 44 Minutes
Distributor: Golden Screen Cinemas
Cast: Tony Leung Ka-Fai
Director:
Format: 2D

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

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Hong Kong triads, Jaycee Chan and a whole lot of troupe drumming - do they work? The three cannot be more dissociated from each other, yet Kenneth Bi's second feature film manages to deliver a fairly entertaining watch although most critics have lamented its pretensions of the piece.

Extending beyond pretensions is pretentiousness - and watching the Zen troupe whacking those drums with such gung-ho as the camera pans to Jaycee Chan's chest is a sure allusion to the heartbeat of roused men. The sound of the titular instrument is said to be the first a man hears in his life because of his mother's pulse in the womb. If you appreciate such suggestions, then this must be the film for you.

However, another aspect of drums is its historical use as a rally for battle. That's where we see the more aggressive side of the film, Tony Leung's unshakeable role as a triad boss to the spoilt son played by Jaycee. The story is primarily an adventure-drama, with his son Sid having to abscond to Taiwan following his mobster father's failed dealings with another hoodlum (Kenneth Tsang) over a moll (Yumiko Cheng). Spoilt Sid is accompanied by his father's mysterious right-hand man, Ah Chiu (Roy Cheung), and soon the two develop strange interests - Chiu takes up mature student courses, and Sid takes up drumming!

Shot on location in Taiwan, we are given a glimpse into the Spartan real lives of the troupe members, who live isolated from the world to practise their impossibly difficult trade. If the majestic drumming sequences do not move you, Bi has prepared a side bet for you in horror staple Angelica Lee's superfluous role. However, while the chemistry of the characters is suspect, the individual performances of the cast are commendable - Jaycee in yet another ironic 'under-performing son' role (Hong Kong may further typecast him after "The Invisible Target"), Angelica in her usual dagger-staring best and Tony Leung reprising another generic mob head role with now effortless ease.

The problem with "Drummer" might have been a general failure to summarise the issue at hand - how all the characters are striving to make good on something but lack the discipline to do so. The attempt to convey a proverbial symmetry between the sound of the drum and its effect on Man is not smooth. Too often the urgency dips and we are asked to care about things unhelpful to the theme. Sid's assigned rock-carrying exercise is reminiscent of the redemption and self-forgiveness embodied in Robert De Niro's boulder scene in "The Mission" but there is never enough punch to power an unambiguous representation.

"The Drummer" then retains its cinematic allure for the drums but only manages to capture half of the grand themes that it promises. It might be rather embarrassing if the U Theatre troupe from the film reads that their fearsome drumming is the single most powerful thing that got beat into viewers. That, and maybe Tony Leung's pork-eating theatrics.

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
Showtimes
 
Classification
U - General viewing for all ages
P13 - Parental guidance is advisable for children below 13 years old
18 - For 18+ with elements for mature audiences
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