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Sai Kung Story


from left to right: Lawrence Ng, Yoyo Ming, Theresa Lee, Patrick Tang, Ruby Wong and Wong Hei
Year: 2003  
Director: Lo Wai-Tak  
Producer: Takkie Yeung Yat-Tak, Ng Kin-Hung  
Cast: Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai, Lawrence Ng Kai-Wah, Theresa Lee Yi-Hung, Patrick Tang Kin-Won, Wong Hei, Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling, Emotion Cheung Kam-Ching, Lee Fung
The Skinny: The greatest Hong Kong film of the year! Well, not really. Shot on video romantic drama means well, but it's only of minor interest. Not entirely terrible, though that may be the low expectations talking.
Review
by Kozo:
     Sometimes you have to give the kids a chance. In this case, the kids are the cheap bastards at B&S Films, who are responsible for much of the shot on video (and sometimes direct to video) fare coming out of Hong Kong these days. Sai Kung Story is a romantic drama consisting of three separate tales, all taking place in the rural region of Sai Kung. Located on the eastern section of the New Territories, Sai Kung is relatively unmodernized, and is known for its scenic parks, small beaches and fishing village life. The setting for Sai Kung Story makes for fine scenery watching, as well as some possible future travel planning. However, it doesn't necessarily make for a good movie.
     Former Milky Way regular Yoyo Mung stars in the first story as Wing, a pretty village girl who desires to be a fashion model. She gets her possible chance when city guy Lok (Lawrence Ng) comes to town. Sadly, the two get off to a rocky start thanks to your typical contrived circumstances. He seems really nice, but when he drove into town in his Mercedes, he accidentally splashed Wing with muddy water. Because of that, SHE HATES HIM! Needless to say, the sympathy is great.
     Story two features long missing-in-action actress Theresa Lee as Gee, whose entire life depends on the letters she receives from her boyfriend, who's studying in France. Enter slacker postman Man (Patrick Tang), who accidentally discovers that the latest letter contains said boyfriend's sayonara. Because he can't bear to see Gee act so sad, Man decides to write the letters himself. He also strikes up a close friendship with Gee, which makes him a better person—but more importantly, a better postman. It's quite inspirational.
     And then there's story three, which features another former Milky Way regular, Ruby Wong. She's June, who lives with her annoying in-laws and pines after her deceased husband Moon (Emotion Cheung). She gets the chance to rekindle her romantic flames when old friend Ming (Wong Hei) returns to Sai Kung. He makes clear his intentions to free June from her grief, but she isn't too sure she wants to leave her husband behind—even though he's deceased and her in-laws are annoying. Meanwhile, Ming follows June around like a lost puppy.
     What do these three stories have in common? Absolutely nothing, except they all take place in Sai Kung. Individually, the stories cover familiar romantic territory, but unfortunately, said familiar territory is not very compelling. Typical stuff like coping with loss, unrequited love, and the realization of dreams all come into play here, and the way they're handled could induce snoring. The actors vary from wooden to tolerably effective, though it could be the material that limits them. By that token, director Lo Wai-Tak isn't much help either. His direction is by-the-numbers and without inspiration. The actors spend their time reciting lines and emoting without subtlety. Balancing performance with narrative is the director's job—by the twentieth minute of this film, it becomes quite obvious: Lo Wai-Tak did a bad job.
     Still, the Sai Kung setting is a welcome one, and the movie looks pretty good for a video production. The digital video image still looks noticeably flat, but it isn't overly harsh like some shot-on-video productions are. And some portions of the story do seem effective in that cheesy TVB serial sort of way. Then again, it could just be reduced expectations talking. Really, this is not a good movie at all, and may only be tolerable because it seems like a TV movie—and not even an effective one at that. One can only hope that Sai Kung Story's lack of quality is a result of lower budgets and reduced resources. When—and if—the HK box office rebounds, it would be terrible to see actual film wasted on efforts like this. (Kozo 2003)
Note: • Patrick Tang's characters is named Hui Koon-Man, as in Michael Hui Koon-Man. Why the filmmakers did this is unknown.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Modern Audio
Shot on Video
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
English and Chinese Subtitles
Trailers

image courtesy of Modern Audio

   
 
 
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