main men at UFO, Peter Chan and Lee Chi-Ngai, team up for this
off-beat but affecting time travel movie that's more about characters
than time travel. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai plays Yuen, a shallow real-estate
salesman who resents his father Feng (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) for being
too giving and philanthropic - and for not being overly successful
in life. Yuen calls his father a "loser," and the next
thing you know Feng is in the hospital and stuck in a coma.
Then it's fantasy plot-device time.
Yuen gets whisked back in time and meets his father as a young
man. Yuen figures he can act like Marty McFly and change the future
by mucking with the past. Yuen's mother Laura (Carina Lau) was
once the heiress to a large fortune, but her dad (Chor Yuen) disapproved
of Feng, and Laura ended up chucking the cash for her future husband.
Yuen tries to make his family rich by making Feng palatable to
Laura's father, thus insuring that his future will be taken care
Unlike the nifty reformatting of
time that Back to the Future glorified, He Ain't Heavy,
He's My Father chooses a different path. This UFO film is
about reconciling and appreciating the past, and using it to find
hope and fulfillment for the future. In that, the film shows remarkable
human sentiment as it asks that people change, and not the circumstances
that create their lives. It's a message that seems tailor-made
for Hong Kong residents (whining about the handover will get you
nowhere), but it's also a lesson that anyone, anywhere, can relate
has never been shy about making their messages evident, but they
manage to do so in charming, enjoyable ways. The film is engaging
and quite entertaining thanks to its low-key mixture of sci-fi,
comedy, and maudlin family drama. Writer-director Lee Chi-Ngai
throws some of his usual satire into the film with appearances
by future HK notables, including Waise Lee as a young Lee Ka-Sing.
That and other in-jokes can slip by the less seasoned viewer,
but they don't detract from the film's charm.
The actors are uniformly good, with Tony
Leung Ka-Fai standing out as the sometimes cartoonish, but always
endearing Feng. He and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai work extremely well
together, and Carina Lau, Anita Yuen (in two roles), and Lawrence
Cheng turn in fine support. The film does stop for some brief
HK-specific asides, i.e. musical numbers and situation comedy
wackiness, but the uneven means never detract from the film's
ultimately enjoyable whole. (Kozo 1995/1998)