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Chasing Dream

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You love Rocky movies; your significant other loves American Idol. Is there a movie you’d both enjoy? The National Museum of Asian Art’s annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival, now in its 25th year, has the answer with the latest from prolific director and festival favorite Johnnie To. Jacky Heung stars as Tiger, a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who meets-cute with aspiring singer-songwriter Cuckoo (Keru Wang). The mismatched pair naturally end up together, but what happens in the middle is nearly two hours of inventive and largely unpredictable spectacle that mashes-up enough plot to drive at least half a dozen movies. As Tiger defeats increasingly brutal opponents, Cuckoo faces a different challenge: her own insecurity, which is really all that keeps her from landing a spot on the TV show Perfect Diva. This sports-and-pop hybrid careens through brutal fight scenes and vivid musical production numbers that would be the envy of any Hollywood producer. With a more than 40-year career that includes such recent highlights as the 3D musical Office and the crime drama Drug War, To is an absurdly effective showman. But he does more than just entertain; fascinating themes of authenticity and media manipulation emerge from a roller-coaster ride that’s equal parts body horror and finding-your-voice fantasy. It’s too bad a crowd-pleaser like Chasing Dream can’t be screened for a cheering group. You’ll just have to root for its protagonists at home. The film is streaming through July 24 via the National Museum of Asian Art. Free.—Pat Padua