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April 25, 2017

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Blowfish (河豚)

"Who are you?" may be the question actress Vicci Pan (潘之敏) is asking lead actor Wu Kang Jen (吳慷仁) right after their sophisticated and random sexual encounter, but audiences might also been hit with a similar question — what exactly is this movie trying to be?

"Blowfish" tells the story of an ordinary mall attendant, Xiao Zun (小尊), played by Vicci Pan, and lonesome baseball coach, played by Wu Kang Jen, who are brought together through the online auction of a blowfish.

Realistic or not aside, upon meeting the buyer for the first time, Xiao Zun then requests the stranger to allow her to put the blowfish inside his fish tank.

Through a series of chances or naivety, they end up in a sexual encounter whilst not knowing each other's name, or spoken more than three words. Xiao Zun later finds out that she has a very similar voice to the baseball coach's wife, played by Angel Yao (姚安琪), who ran away with a truck driver prior their encounter, thus the deep initial connection the baseball coach has with her.

As a first timer on the big screens, lead actor Wu Kang Jen really hits it out of the ballpark. His solid acting exhibits even more polish and improvement since his breakout role in the 2009 television drama "Autumn's Concerto." In "Blowfish," Wu Kang Jen mastered in displaying the shifting process of his character from being lonely, to a love filled man. He is considered one of the new, rising stars of Taiwan, and rightfully so.

First time actress Vicci Pan was also a surprise factor of the film, being an economy major graduate of Tsing Hua University, she did not get into acting until her expedition to France to train in theater for seven months. Though, her tone while delivering lines may seem subpar, her overall performances peeks still out above the rest, and display a handful of potential. She had also written many of the love scenes in the film along with the director.

Supporting actress Angel Yao did not enter until towards the very end of the film. However, based on her eventual entrance it was definitely worth the wait. The expression of utter sorrow that would hit her only made the audience sympathize her, in this case, the antagonist.

The film consists of a variety of nudity and love scenes; it has so many to the point that one would easily affiliate the movie to Ang Lee's (李安) 2008 classy epic, "Lust, Caution" (色,戒).

However, "Blowfish" fails to match either the classiness or the literary sense to this two and half hour gravy. The more than enough love scenes not only acted as a distraction, but simply feels like a repetitive button-smashing video game that you'd put down your controller after one or two boss fights.

"Blowfish" seeks itself to be a classy literary film, while announces itself to be a young, modern romance comedy-esk type. Hoping to grasp the best of both worlds, Blowfish only left the audience a head-scratching remark. ■

► Directed by Lee Chi-yuarn / With Wu Kang Jen, Vicci Pan, Angel Yao and Lu Yi-ching / Drama / Taiwan / 2011 / 88 min. / Mandarin with Chinese and English subtitles / ★★★☆☆ / Now Showing

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