AMERICAN DREAMS IN CHINA (PG13)
The story: Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming), Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao) and Wang Yang (Tong Dawei) meet at university and become firm friends. Years later, Cheng and Wang set up an English language school and Meng joins them after a stint abroad in the United States. But running a business together eventually threatens to tear their friendship apart. It takes a legal suit from an American testing service to reunite the trio.
As far as portraits of the China Dream go, director Peter Chan's take is far more realistic and engaging than the recent flight of fancy that was Tiny Times.
Interestingly, both were hits in China. Dreams took in 535 million yuan (S$110 million) at the box office while Times chalked up 483 million yuan.
As the title here makes clear, the China Dream is very much about America.
The film opens with the different experiences of the three friends in their attempts to get a visa to the United States, providing quick sketches of the three main characters. Meng Xiaojun is confident and smooth; Wang Yang is impulsive; and Cheng Dongqing is something of a straight arrow.
The suave-looking and hunky Huang Xiaoming (The Last Tycoon, 2012) plays against type as the country bumpkin loser, Cheng. He is hidden under a dorky haircut and ugly spectacles and manages to come across as a bumbling young man with a lack of self-confidence.
For his persuasive transformation, Huang was nominated for a Golden Rooster Award for Best Actor at China's equivalent of the Oscars. Dreams' five other nominations include nods for Best Film and Best Director.