Victory



Reviewed by YTSL



Under lesser -- especially less able and sincere -- hands, this breezy film which centers on a female volleyball team could have so easily been terribly childish or trashy.  As it stands though, this Teddy Robin Kwan and Andy Chin co-production -- whose Chinese title translates as "Youthful Spark" -- is full of fun and good cheer.  While its standard sports movie story is quite predictable in terms of eventual outcomes, I'd wager that many a tolerant viewer will care less about that and exult more in its possessing such as:  A thoroughly catchy theme song (enthusiastically belted out by Linda Wong); additional giggle-inducing Cantopop moments; pretty visually nifty sports segments (lensed, like the rest of this offering, by the wonderful Poon Hang Seng); and a winning cast of young actresses -- some of whom may yet go on to have eminent Hong Kong movie careers -- along with Derek Yee as an amiable thorn among the roses.

Carmen Lee (in the lead role of team captain Fai), Fan Yik Man (as vice-captain Mary Chong), Josie Ho (as a character named Disappearance!), Hilary Tsui, Farini Cheung, Annabel Lau, Cherry Chan (as the artistic Spring) and Ng Ching Ching (whose "Broom" character is the "ugly duckling" "towel girl") play the young women whose university volleyball team's defeat by the formidable Devil Women (whose uptight coach is portrayed by Wanda Yung) is a huge shock and humiliation for a side used to winning without too much effort.  Our heroines' upset coach quits after that match.  Wah Shui University's spineless administration -- represented by the morally questionable Chancellor and nervous Vice-Chancellor -- responds to this by planning to withdraw funding of a team who had already been under pressure to continue the nine championship winning streak of its predecessors.
Carman Lee, Josie Ho, Carman, Hilary Tsui and Farini Cheung
Almost needless to say, our heroines are way less inclined to give it all up without a fight (At one point, one of then actually quotes a historical Chinese sage's assertion that "failure is the mother of success").  It also almost ought to go without saying that Erica Lee's script has the young women battling themselves and among themselves in the process of striving for the (return) VICTORY they ultimately show a desire to get.  One of the first things they had to do though was to find someone who was willing to be -- at least in name, if not deed -- their coach.  Into the breach comes Derek Yee's Mr. Ma Chi, a gentle bespectacled biology lecturer who cares about all kinds of insects and -- among other things -- ends up showing the lively group of lasses the value of such as fireflies but also friendship (and possibly first love...or is that just infatuation?).
derek Yee and Fan Yik Man
In general, VICTORY is an ensemble movie which some might say did not make too many serious demands of its cast as well as its audience.  Nonetheless, a few individuals did stand out among the charming crowd.  Derek Yee probably can't help but do so on account of his character being the one notably nice guy in the entire film.  Nonetheless, what I saw in this film has not changed my view that it's unfortunate that he seems to have opted for solely behind-the-camera roles these days.  Similarly, I found myself wishing that Carmen Lee could be lured back to Hong Kong movie making, hoping that Josie Ho will be given ample room to shine in a way that she has clearly exhibited that she can, and wondering what fortunes have befallen the likes of Fan Yik Man since the making and release of this 1994 effort.
Hilary Tsui and Farini Cheung
On a different note:  For this (re)viewer, one of the more enjoyable elements of this Andy Chin helmed as well as co-produced film is the sense of innocence found throughout it.  Although VICTORY's main characters are university students, they are more spiritually akin to the "jolly hockey sticks" girls found in English boarding school stories than the pseudo-sophisticates who people many a Hollywood movie set on college campuses, and light years away from the often morally challenged scholarship basketball players of "Blue Chips", the film perhaps best known as marking Shaquille O'Neal's cinematic debut.  Perhaps this 1994 offering's depiction of Hong Kong university life is a dated and false one.  Alternatively, it might actually be the case that institutions of higher learning in that part of the world really then did -- and still do? -- have residence halls with stern matrons who seek to enforce curfews.  In any case, it sure made for an attractive picture that was experienced by me as a welcome and very nice breath of fresh air.
Ng Ching Ching and Annabel Lau

My rating for the film:  8.
 
 

Cherry Chan, Fan Yik Man, Carman Lee