Film Review: Andy Lau Brings Magic To A Cliche Story in ‘Find Your Voice’ 《热血合唱团》4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Internationally renowned conductor Yim Chi-long, who is also known as an “Iron-Blooded Instructor” in the music industry, has been residing in the United States but he returns to Hong Kong to be the conductor of a pessimistic group of choir students
Director: Adrian Kwan
Cast: Andy Lau, Rachel Lee, Eddie Kwan, Lowell Lo, Wan Yeung-Ming
Country: Hong Kong
Runtime: 97 minutes
Hong Kong drama Find Your Voice《热血合唱团》is a throwback to the popular trope of delinquent children who has their lives transformed by a talented teacher. Every cliche and beat in the (song)book can be found here – so much so that the script can feel like it was generated by an AI. Yet, there might still be comfort to be found in the familiar, especially with the ever-dependable, powerful leading performance of Andy Lau.
Lau stars as Yim Tsz-long, a renowned conductor with a chequered past. After his mysterious year-long hiatus from the music world, he unexpectedly agrees to tutor a group of underperforming students, preparing them for both a choir competition and for the rest of their lives.
The film kicks off with an unintentionally hilarious montage introducing the students and their main flaws; somehow being a cosplayer belonged in the same category as having a violent streak or being from a broken family.
Nonetheless, these issues would be the students’ defining characteristics. Find Your Voice would dig deeper into their lives, but unearths nothing too noteworthy. The seeds of drama and camaraderie are sowed between the students but – to no fault of the performances – their uninspired backstories and the sheer volume of characters makes it difficult to be engaged with.
Despite these flaws, Lau still manages to conjure pure emotion almost out of thin air with a shaky script that is constantly unsure of how his character feels about his students. The character’s main arc is with how he ultimately learns from the children to muster the courage to face his dark past, yet there is no worthwhile dramatic tension that validates the payoff. It does not help that Lau’s character truly is the world’s most impressive choir teacher, being able to transform a group of disparate students to a professional choir in a matter of months.
Nevertheless, Lau’s engaging performance would be the main selling point of Find Your Voice. Always armed with a stirring speech, his role as an inspirational figure is believable and genuinely heartening – even if he is not as tortured as the narrative might ask of such a character. The film’s last third goes all out with Lau’s performance truly tugging at the heartstrings.
Find Your Voice does look and sound spectacular though. Perhaps it is just the nature of choir performances but I did find myself holding back tears during some moments here, particularly with the film’s sensational conclusion. The film’s sound design does so well at capturing the magic of such performances that it ironically struggles at making the student choir sound terrible, further dampening the payoff of their eventual growth.
The film looks gorgeous with most of it being played out in a music school that would make Juilliard look dingy in comparison. There is wonder to be found in these elaborate halls and classrooms. Even the less glamorous locales are offered a sense of posh charm. The only negative technical-wise with the film comes with its frequent use of slow-motion, which felt like yet another attempt to grasp at emotions that the narrative fell short of conjuring.
I cannot emphasise enough how much Lau elevates this film and salvages it from complete derivativeness. Perhaps much like the endless rehearsals and training that come before any musical performance, the routine Find Your Voice doles out in its first half pays off in a tremendous way with a conclusion that will definitely make it difficult to hold back tears.
Distributed by MM2 Entertainment Singapore, Find Your Voice opens islandwide today.
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