Rating: 3 out of 5
Some comedies are easy to enjoy, even if their jokes are corny and their plots are predictable.
Jump is a prime example. It can be argued that this Stephen Chow-produced, Stephen Fung-directed film is a one-trick pony, for most of the jokes centre around the main character Phoenix’s humble background.
She is a farm girl who knows little of the ways of the city. In fact, her life seems to be one big song-and-dance stereotype, complete with traditional odes to nature and her bountiful harvest, and long outdated clap-and-kick dance moves.
But this film, for all its shallowness, has a good-naturedness about it that’s undeniable.
Kitty Zhang Yuqi (CJ7) simply exudes it in her portrayal of the country bumpkin Phoenix, from her obliviousness to her light-but-noticeable upper lip fuzz (nothing compared to Sandra Ng’s fuzz in All’s Well, Ends Well), to her penchant for breaking out into country folk songs, especially when she’s happy.
Her character goes to the city purportedly to work, but her ultimate dream is to learn street dance. It is a passion driven by hopes of finding fame and fortune, so that she can give her kung-fu-fighting peasant widower father a good life.
She moonlights as a cleaner at a dance school and picks up skills by simple observation and practice on the sly, in true martial-arts TV and movie tradition.
Her life is made complicated by the interest a playboy businessman (Leon Jay Williams) takes in her. After he predictably guides her to become a well-groomed dance starlet, she wonders whether his affections are driven by her commercial appeal or true love.
While the film does trace the social phenomenon of country folk seeking to find their fortunes in the city, frequently seeing their dreams evaporate in harsh reality, it takes a carefree, things-will-somehow-work-out attitude.
Staying true to yourself and your roots, being loyal to your friends, and showing some determination are the values that are most cherished here.
Phoenix may be dazzled by the glitz and glamour of the good life, but she never forgets about her father, her friends or her goal to become a top dancer.
The audience is never in any doubt that there will be a happy ending, and that no real harm will befall Phoenix, and that anybody who stands in her way will quickly warm to her decency and dedication.
So for all the lack of dramatic tension and the tiresome love complications, why does Jump work? It works because the film pokes fun of its characters with an apparent affection. It makes fun the way a grandparent would tease a grandchild – there is no venom behind it.
As such, this film may be light and fluffy, and quickly forgotten, but audiences may come away with fond memories of how easily enjoyable this cinematic comfort-food was.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
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