Anita (Director's Cut) (2022)
After its initial theatrical release in late 2021, this biopic of Hong Kong singer and actress Anita Mui was reedited as a limited series for Disney+. Anita (Director’s Cut) screened over five 45-minute episodes with rearranged scenes and over an hour of extra footage. The result was a biopic with a turgid middle section and disjointed timeline.
The path this limited series will follow is apparent from the early moments of Episode 1, with Mui announcing at a news conference that she has cervical cancer. A flashback to her sixth birthday finds the singer backstage at an amusement park with her sister (the only family member depicted in this biopic). The two continue to perform together over the years till they compete as solo artists in Hong Kong’s New Talent Singing Awards. Anita’s success sees her signed by Capital Artists and she becomes an overnight sensation after more than ten years of hard slog.
The following episodes follow the same format, opening with Mui in ill health before flashing back to cover the next chapter in her short life. Yet some of the more significant events have been omitted, no doubt hamstrung by litigious family members and a Hong Kong now ruled by China. Instead, we get a meandering third episode that focuses on the fallout from her brush with a gang member. The standstill that Mui’s career suffered as a result is echoed by the loss of momentum the series had up until this point.
Like model turned actress Louise Wong in the title role, Anita (Director’s Cut) is pretty to look but offers very little emotionally. Though supported by a strong cast, led by Louis Koo as fashion designer Eddie Lau, Wong’s muted portrayal of the vibrant Mui is akin to one of the accessories adorning the singer’s costumes… strategically placed without contributing much independently.
The intertwining of actual Anita Mui footage with their cinematic recreations may have been instructive for the uninitiated, but the comparison between the real model and her imitation is stark.
as Anita Mui
as Ann Mui
as Leslie Cheung
as Leonard Ho
The character of Yuuki Goto is based on Japanese singer Masahiko Kondo.
A post on the Leslie Cheung International Fan Club disputed several plot points, including -
Anita did not meet Leslie after winning the 1982 Rookie Contest. The two had known each other since as early as 1980. In 1981, Mui appeared as a guest on a TV series Cheung starred in.
Cheung could not have sung ‘Silently Upstream’ in 1982 as it first appeared on the 1983 album ‘Wind Continues to Blow’.
Though the biopic depicts Cheung and Mui as best friends, the two rarely met after the 1990s.
Mui’s role in helping Cheung get more scenes in the film Rouge is overstated.
Anita Mui’s film career is covered in episode 2 of this limited series, which features some fleeting scene recreations of Rouge.