Copyright ©1998 B & S Films Production Limited
Starring : Sammo Hung, Kenny Bee
Directed : By Takkie Yeung - 1998
As its Sammo Hung month here at Kick ?Em, I thought I?d have a wander through one or two of the lesser known endeavours in the wonderful world of Sammo Hung's exceptional career.
The Pale Sky, which also features Millionaires Express co-star Kenny Bee, is a quirky drama made just before Sammo relocated to LA to make CBS show Martial Law. Hung plays Yan, a working class man struggling to make money in a competitive job and win the respect of his young girlfriend?s father (played by the fantastic Richard Ng/Woo).
An unfortunate accident sees Yan rushed to hospital where, being pronounced dead, his male organ is taken and transplanted on another man named Michael Wu (Kenny Bee). Yan wakes up however, making medical history in the process, to find his friend and fellow struggling co-worker Jacky had been the one who cheekily amended his organ donation card. Yan is understandably embarrassed and devastated, while friend Jacky is determined to help Yan get his organ back, no matter the route or cost.
Skipping two months on we see Yan unable to tell girlfriend Man-Sum what has happened. However, as he threatens to sue the hospital for maiming him, he and Jacky are read a letter thanking the surgeons for the new ?attachment?. Yan and Jacky trace the man through the letter to see he is rich, quite pleasant and charming, but unwilling to give back the transplanted organ.
The Pale Sky wonders uneasily between comedy, Yan insists on visiting his organ whenever he likes and indisposes Michael in male toilets, and social commentary, trying to address class issues within modern Hong Kong post handover. Does a working class man have more need and right to a family and marriage than a successful man? Can the two who?d never usually be friends become blood brothers through this unfortunate but deep shared experience?
The film cannot really answer the questions it poses, scattering the piece with subplots. Jacky becomes a medical beginner and experiments with ways to forcibly take the organ back, Yan struggles with the sexual advances of his young girlfriend, Yan also has to face her father ( a former friend) and cope with a mother with Alzheimer?s who is convinced he is dead and a physical ghost.
The friendship with Michael is tested by their reluctance to back down, as well as Jacky feeling maligned by his friend?s abandonment of him for the richer man. For a while we see glimpses of a tortured lonely man in Yan who is hemmed in by strict rules and money whose without the will and resources to fight back. Unfortunately he doesn?t well up with anger or the will to fight, instead simply seeming to allow it all to happen to him.
The Pale Sky promises a clean ending, yet it falls away, not allowing either man to ultimately make the sacrifice, and each character being pleased with the unexpected outcome.
Although perhaps too long, The Pale Sky is still a joy in the sense it allows Sammo Hung to act without having to fight some bullish bruiser in every other scene. He?s given freedom to show his fans a wider scope of the subtler emotions he can showcase, and for dedicated Sammo enthusiasts it?s a movie worth re-visiting often just to see him play a fresher contemporary role.
It may not be powerful, perhaps a film about transplanted male organs can never be viewed without a snigger and cringe, but it?s still watchable and gentle enough to engage.
Review Date: 07/2010