Mambo Girl ★★★½

The school's mambo champion learns she is adopted and sets out to find her birth mother.

A wonderful document, built firmly on the multi-talented Grace Chang. In a lot of ways it is incredibly saccharin and gives the impress of not being like life as it was ever lived anywhere. The Hong Kong equivalent of a Cliff Richard movie or a family orientated 50s US TV show. All groups of very polite twenty something school kids giving dance classes in the school gym

On the other hand if you can live with that it's incredibly fun. The music and especially the dancing is superb and her quest to discover her past allows it to work through a bunch of darker moods, getting across the pain of displacement and how the Hong Kong community dealt with it, and handle them just as well and with a fair bit of visual innovation. Strangely for all of its western cultural trappings it's the colonial Hong Kong film with the least sign of white people and spoken english I can remember, usually in HK films (as in Bollywood) you get a fair number of incidental hellos and goodbyes and yes sirs. It's Notable for its lack of white people but its total immersion in the most anodyne 50s white pop culture. Like I said an incredible document as well as a lovely film with a really charismatic star

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