3.5 out of 5 stars (In-Flight movie #4)
A fascinating glimpse into the world of China’s largest movie studio, or Chinese Hollywood as it’s being called, Hengdian is where youngsters descend looking for stardom, end up being extras on film and TV productions to make a living. Writer-director, Tung-Shing Yee who used to be a famous actor himself back in the Shaw Brothers era, researched and put together real stories and used real extras to play the struggling actors while famous local actors and directors from China and HK in cameos long and short provide extra authenticity. The intercutting narratives are Altmanesque but at times seem bursting at its seams to cover everything it wants to. It is often too sympathetic about its subject matter and resolutions too neat to have any real bite, with melodramatic plotlines involving predictable romantic entanglements that could do with a bit more nuance and complexities. The film is irresistible when we get to see the film making machinery at work but ultimately, it is a respectful and insightful tribute to these actors and their contribution to an industry they so desperately want to be a part of.