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Happy Go Lucky
Chinese: 低一點的天空 "We're off to the see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Good Filmmaking Choices."
Lai Yiu-Cheung, Gillian Chung and Kent Cheng
Year: 2003
Director: Heaven Yiu Tin-Tong
Producer: Kent Cheng Juk-Si
Writer: Lam Shiu-Chi
Cast: Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Kent Cheng Juk-Si, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Amy Wu, Felix Lok Ying-Kwan, Yiu Chi-Ming, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Elena Kong Mei-Yi, Mary Hon, Andrea Choi On-Kiu, Tavia Yeung, Candy Hau Woon-Ling
The Skinny: Well-meaning in every way, but also manufactured and without any real story or character. Happy Go Lucky is only superficially inspirational and not really much of a film.
by Kozo:

Impressionable audiences are the target for Happy Go Lucky, an altruistic drama that uses character types to impart a message of obvious social significance. While those types (a blind girl, a mentally-challenged adult, a man with spastic paralysis) are effective, the characters themselves do not seem to exist beyond their personal struggles. Director "Heaven" Yiu Tin-Tong and writer Lam Shui-Chi have created characters that serve the script and not vice-versa, effectively rendering Happy Go Lucky as nothing more than a public service announcement starring professional actors. But hey, at least one of them is a Twin.

Kent Cheng stars as Fat Cat, a mentally challenged fellow who delivers food for a local restaurant. He happens across Cheung (Lai Yiu-Cheung), who's afflicted with a nervous disorder that limits his motor functions, and marvels at how "cool" Cheung's style of walking is. Not surprisingly, Cheung is none-too-pleased by this attention, and writes it off as the usual teasing his condition would cause. He has enough issues in his job as an office assistant, where he's consistently discriminated upon by those with fully-functioning bodies (but poorer work ethics). Still, Fat Cat wears him down, and the two eventually form a bond of friendship, highlighted by the fact that hey, they're both real people. They just happen to talk, walk or act in a way different than those who are "normal" would expect. PC Police take note: these are important lessons here.

Their support group of those with disabilities becomes a trio when Snow White (the ever-cuddly Gillian Chung) enters the mix. She's a blind girl who befriends the two, but a cornea transplant is just around the corner. When she gets her new peepers, will she still accept her physically-challenged friends? If you can imagine Gillian Chung as an intolerant, superficial golddigger, then congratulations: you obviously have more imagination than anyone who works in the Hong Kong film industry. Per the usual Gillian Chung modus operandi, Snow White is a sweetheart of a gal, who will stay friends with people considerably older and far less attractive than her even after she can see them. In addition to being a public service announcement, Happy Go Lucky is also an all-out fantasy.

Still, a true portrait of reality is not the issue in Happy Go Lucky. This film is a loaded collection of conflicts and characters aimed at enlightening those who are discriminatory AND so secure with themselves that they could conceivably stop judging others based on their disabilities or physicial appearance. In reality, people are far more given to media stereotypes, peer pressure, and just plain misguided thinking. In the world of Happy Go Lucky, it just takes hope and tolerance to realize your dreams, and cherishing your friends is enough to take you past the dark times. That message, though hackneyed, is a worthy one, and if kids out there can take something from the trials of Twin #2 (and Kent Cheng and Lai Yiu-Cheung), then the filmmakers did a fine humanitarian job.

However, what the filmmakers did not do was their supposed other job: filmmaking. Happy Go Lucky is told in uninteresting and deafeningly obvious strokes; the characters and situations here are spelled out with the subtlety of an exploding BMW. Complexity of emotion rarely exists; the characters behave and are rather simple, and even the more interesting ideas (Cheung is a bitter fellow thanks to his disability—can he get past his self-loathing?) get solved with wisdom that you can find in a self-help book. The performances aren't much help either, as they're sometimes annoyingly broad. Then again, it would be hard to fault the actors for not creating anything behind their characters, when such a road map probably didn't exist in the first place.

Happy Go Lucky is commendable as a supposed PSA, but it's really not a film at all. Films can do do more than spout inspirational platitudes; they can also involve, entertain and even shock and affect. Happy Go Lucky does none of those things, and merely succeeds at spreading simple wisdom that anyone with any common sense would figure out on their own. Maybe some kids will find something in here to latch on to, but those who check out this movie for more than Gillian Chung—and even those who dial it up just because of her—will probably find little reason to get happy. (Kozo 2003)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

image courtesy of Chinastar

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