Revenge is very sweet indeed in the often Euro-flavored Hong Kong chick-buddy pic, “Beyond Our Ken.” Toplining Hong Kong singer-thesp Gillian Chung (one half of the Twins duo) and Mainland actress Tao Hong (“Life Show”) as the current and former girlfriends of a serial cad, pic blossoms into a winning blend of early Claude Lelouch and mid-term Wong Kar-wai. A logical progression from Edmond Pang’s other entertaining, high-concept pics (“You Shoot, I Shoot,” “Men Suddenly in Black”), this should solidify helmer’s rep as a diverse talent of intelligence and great warmth. Fest prospects also look strong after Nov. 11 release.
Young Chan Wai-ching (Chung) is about to be bedded by handsome firefighter Ken (Daniel Wu) in the boudoir of the apartment he shares with his grandmother.
Switch to older Mainlander Zhou Xiaolan, aka “Shirley,” who slaves away on the graveyard shift at a restaurant when her friends and her beau (also Ken) spring a surprise birthday party for her.
After flashing back to Ken’s wooing of Wai-ching, film returns to the present as Wai-ching appears at the restaurant to meet Shirley. She explains she’s Ken’s ex, and has suffered major embarrassment from his recent posting of nude photos of her on the Internet. She simply wants to get access to Ken’s computer and delete the photo files.
Realizing she could be Ken’s next victim, Shirley agrees to help Wai-ching and, in an artfully entertaining sequence, she keeps Ken busy while Wai-ching makes a copy of his latchkey. But this is only a prelude to the problems that ensue when the two women have to get past Ken’s grandmother to complete their mission.
A series of musical montages add a Gallic flavor as the two women develop a deep friendship that looks likely to end Ken’s relationship with Shirley. Further Euro influence is evident in the frequent use of Italian pop song “Amandoti” (likely to become as closely identified with this film as “California Dreaming” was with Wong Kar-wai’s “Chung King Express”). Also, the soundtrack’s soulful use of Mozart further helps to build an atmosphere of greater intimacy than the synopsis alone would suggest.
Then, just as the audience is lulled into a sense of complacency, the script delivers a twist that will catch all but the most suspicious off-guard.
Helming has a typical Hong Kong breeziness, but each narrative shift reveals just how expert Pang’s direction is. Thesps are all aces, with Wu’s duplicitous performance both dramatically satisfying and vulnerable to parody by the two female leads. Lensing has a blue/green tinge that’s now a Hong Kong staple, and all other credits are pro. Original title means “Revenge of the Princess(es).”