Review: THE JOURNEY 一路有你 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Review: THE JOURNEY 一路有你 (2014)

Emotionally poignant and genuinely funny, THE JOURNEY is a must-see movie for all Malaysians.

Before I first went to watch THE JOURNEY in the cinema, I have little knowledge about this movie at all. But to my surprise, this locally-made production has totally exceeds my expectation, at which THE JOURNEY truly deserves its recognition as one of the best Malaysian-Chinese movies ever made. And bear in mind, this is only Chiu's (his full name is actually Chiu Keng Guan) third directing effort following his back-to-back success of 2010's WOOHOO! and 2011's GREAT DAY.

After spending a decade living with her aunt to study art in England, Bee (Joanne Yew) has finally returns home to Cameron Highlands. She also brought back her British fiance, Benji (Ben Andrew Pfeiffer) to introduce him to her conservative father Uncle Chuan (Frankie Lee) and hoping to seek his blessing for their upcoming marriage. At first, Uncle Chuan opposes to his daughter's marriage because he doesn't get along with Benji well. However, he ends up agreeing anyway except with one condition -- their wedding ceremony has to be done in the Chinese tradition. Soon, Benji is tasked to bring along Uncle Chuan on a long motorcycle journey across the country to deliver the wedding invitations to Uncle Chuan's 11 ex-primary schoolmates.
Chiu's direction is sharp and meticulous to detail, especially the way he depicts the Chinese culture and tradition with such authenticity. His regular screenwriter, Ryon Lee, successfully combined the universal themes of culture, hope, love, friendship and unity within his screenplay that everyone can relate to. Eric Yeong's cinematography, which is shot on locations across six states in Malaysia (Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, Penang, Kedah, Melaka and Johor) are wonderfully captured with such sheer beauty it's like watching a travel channel. The panoramic and idyllic view of the Cameron Highlands setting is especially worth a special mention here.

For the acting department, Chiu has certainly took a huge gamble by casting actors with little or no experience in acting at all. However, his gamble proves to be surprisingly rewarding. 73-year-old retiree Frankie Lee is perfectly cast as the conservative and stubborn father Uncle Chuan. He pairs well with Australian stage actor Ben Andrew Pfeiffer, who delivers an impressive performance as Benji. Watching the way they argue against each other because of their cultural and ideological differences are simply both entertaining and heartfelt. Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant 2007 Joanne Yew, in the meantime, is not only photogenic but also acted well as the estranged daughter Bee. As for the rest of the supporting actors, all of them have their equal share of limelight.
The brief but wonderful scene where Bee uses a black marker to draw caricature of her father, Uncle Chuan and her fiance, Benji riding motorcycle together on the car window.
Throughout the duration, I was surprised by the mesmerizing result of this movie. In short, THE JOURNEY is pitch perfect that I hardly find a flaw within.

Like the title itself, this is one cinematic journey worth exploring for. No doubt THE JOURNEY is a rare gem of a local movie not to be missed this Chinese New Year. By the way, make sure to stay for the end-credits music video featuring Ben Andrew Pfeiffer singing a wonderfully cheeky song that combines English and Chinese languages.

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