Film Review: Formula 17


I’m going to slowly walk away from reviewing deep and disturbing horror films and bring to your attention one of my favourite romantic comedies of all time. I’m not one for romantic comedy, I’ve never seen The Notebook, I do not plan to see 50 Days of Summer and even the new Tarzan that’s coming out seems a bit lovey dovey for me (I will see it obviously, it has Christoph Waltz in it) but Formula 17 is an absolute exception!

Name: Formula 17
Release Date: 2004
Language: Mandarin/English
Director: Yin-jung Chen
Writer: Rady Fu
Actors: Tony Yo-ning Yang (Tien)
Duncan Lai (Duncan)
King Chin (Yu)

FORMULA 17, (aka SHI QI SUI DE TIAN KONG), Tony Yang, 2004. ©Strand Releasing


A young Taiwanese country bumpkin named Tien moves to the city in search of a Summer job. While waiting for his friend to finish his night shift at a local club he catches the attention of young architect and playboy Bah Tieh-nan. Tien is an old romantic, believing in true love and waiting for that perfect someone, which also brings me to another key plot point; he’s a virgin. During his time his new friends desperately try to get him laid whilst dealing with their own daily struggles.


True to it’s title, Formula 17 does follow the same old formula that you usually get with these movies; innocent boy meets promiscuous playboy, playboy becomes a changed man thanks to our lovely innocent boy however the production keeps it very fresh and interesting!


Due to the fact that the secondary characters are performed in an over the top manner the acting by our main protagonists really stand out. They both shine in terms of their acting and from their first encounter to every scene afterwards, you detect a hint of realism, you have the sense of genuine feeling between both leads and how they were told to portray their characters (in comparison to others) keeps the movie grounded. Tony Yang who plays Tien steals the film for me. He comes across exactly as he should; a sweet shy young kid. You will fall in love with his character, to be honest, you will fall in love with all of them!!


Of course, parody is a key element within this film as it pokes fun at gay cliches with no hint of guilt. It contains narrated flashbacks staged as dramatic theatre pieces as well as poking fun (in a lighthearted way) of being over emotional. It’s slightly relatable in a very strange way. The way Tien deals with his emotions is exactly how I would deal with it if I’m honest.

This film is not only about sex though; it’s also about friendship and the love we have for one another.
It’s about male bonding that doesn’t relate to sex.  When Yu (Tien’s friend from the city) is left heartbroken, Tien and the other two boys rally around him and attempt to comfort him with what they do best – CC with his gossip (he tells Tien on their first encounter he needs to learn to gossip), Alan (works at the gym) with his weights and Tien with his romanticism. I’m currently going through a similar situation with my housemate, she’s had her heartbroken and can relate to this scene at the moment.

FORMULA 17, (aka SHI QI SUI DE TIAN KONG), Jimmy Yang, Dada Ji, Tony Yang, Chin King, 2004. ©Strand Releasing

The films ends just the way I and everyone else who has seen it predicted. It’s obvious how it’ll end but WHO CARES!!! It’s still a sweet cute film!!! The characters are loveable, the film itself is vibrant in colour and it’s just a lot of fun!!


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