Lost and Found
Reviewed by YTSL
That which has been deemed "the most controversial
Hong Kong film of 1996" by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society contains
so many elements which can (usually) be off-putting to quite a few movie
viewers. Among others: Its main character is a young woman
who is dying of leukemia; it contains some Wong Kar Wai-esque contrivances
(including music videoish sequences filmed in black and white and the copious
use of voiceover narration); there is an abundance of rich and beautiful
people on one hand together with individuals who could be described as
unfortunates on the other; plus the often annoyingly American-accented
Michael Wong plays a Scottish-Chinese sailor-turned-innkeeper (who dons
a kilt and plays the bagpipes in a couple of scenes) in this movie.
I will personally attest that the obviously ambitious work which sharply
divided Hong Kong's professional film reviewers "into two polar extremes"
did not immediately grab my fancy, let alone get a hold of my heart.
Ultimately though, I do think that this complex
yet accessible, thoughtful and touching, poignant but also satisfying offering
won me over to its camp of admirers (which include some male as well as
female regulars on the Asian Film Discussion Forum along with the author
of the Peter Grimes web site).
And it is most sincerely hoped that my statement that LOST AND FOUND has
one of the most wonderful and affecting as well as "Magical Realistic"
endings -- and idealistically inspirational final uttered line -- of any
movie I have ever seen will not act as a spoiler for any (potential) viewer,
create certain overly-high expectations, lead one to make misleading misconceptions
or all of these. Instead, the intent is to get people to give the
movie a chance and for those who may find it initially annoying(ly pretentious
or unappealing) to persist with it and allow it to (eventually) show and
work its truly lovely magic.
A Singaporean reviewer has described this joint
United Filmmakers Organization (UFO) and Golden Harvest production as having
elements and being an amalgam of "Chungking Express" and (Brigitte) Lin
Ching-Hsia's 1970s Taiwanese weepies. IMHO, there is some truth to
this assessment. In terms of comparisons with the former: LOST AND
FOUND is yet another enchanting movie that benefits from the presence of
the immensely winning Takeshi Kaneshiro, whose character here -- whose
strange name of "That Worm" is "explained" by his hailing from Mongolia!
-- is (also) that of a quirky young man who embraces life and the world.
I also see this film's makers (more than by the way: Lee Chi-Ngai
directed, wrote the script and also acted as co-producer) as being entirely
successful in making quite profound
statements that are surficially masked as everyday observations.
Somewhat amazingly (though), this rather contemplative effort does share
with the decades older, often irrationally (overly-)emotional melodramas
a certain heart-tugging quality and tear jerking ability. And while
I do not see it myself, I will point out that LOST AND FOUND's lead actress,
Kelly Chan, is considered by some people to physically resemble Brigitte
More than incidentally, I think that this Cantopop
star (one of whose renditions in this movie won a Hong Kong Film Award
for Best Original Film Song) rose immensely well to the challenge of portraying
the wistful and sad but also still hope-filled young woman who is at the
center of this lengthier (101 minutes) than average movie. To be
sure, she -- and the film itself -- undoubtedly benefits from having a
fine group of secondary characters and actors (the performances of Cheung
Tat-Ming -- as That Worm's primary assistant -- along with the little girl
who played the "child prodigy" and another who plays a miracle-seeking
client of That Worm's "LOST AND FOUND" investigative agency deserve mention;
plus "star-spotters" should have some fun seeing Jordan Chan and Maria
Cordero making cameo appearances). The often amazing cinematography
(which surely is helped by the bona fide beauty of some of the locations)
and appropriate mood-affecting soundtrack (which actually features Celtic
mood music, Scottish folk tunes and a Leonard Cohen song together with
a catchy Cantopop number sung by Chan and Kaneshiro!) also help establish
that this is a hardly run-of-the-mill effort.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record,
this is yet another of those Hong Kong movies that are both multi-genre
and defy attempts to categorize it, and which too many Americans I know
who would probably be impressed and moved by it have absolutely no clue
exists. This is really too bad; not least because I think that quite
a few people (moviemakers and viewers) can learn from its serious and tender
yet neither cornily sentimental nor disgustingly cloying romantic approach
to quite a few life issues that affect us, whether or not we are Hong Kongers
worried about their home territory (now) being a part of China once more.
My rating for the film: 9.0
Reviewed by Brian
For a film that I have always made an effort
to avoid, I have to admit upon finally viewing it that it completely filled
me up with an assortment of strong emotions – from magical wonder to true
sadness to thoughtful contemplation. I avoided it partly because of the
actors involved – Michael Wong, Kelly Chan and Takeshi Kaneshiro who are
far from my favorites – but primarily because of the theme of illness and
death which I feared would pervade this film in a shallow manipulative
The fact that Kelly is possibly dying does
certainly add a great deal of poignancy to many scenes, but the film in
no way dwells upon it. Rather, in a way it is a celebration of the short
time we all get on this earth. Kelly learns very early in the film that
she has leukemia and her chances of surviving are as she announces in a
job interview with her father “30%”. Her illness pushes Kelly to explore
the world in a different way, meet new people and try to come to some understanding
about what is important in life.
The last ten minutes of the film is very powerful
and almost surreal and it will leave you with a sense of sadness that is
at the same time overlaid by a sense of the wonder and workings of life.
My rating for this film: 8.0