American networks failed with shows like Pan
Am and LAX, Hong Kong found
tremendous success with a prime time airliner drama. While it had the benefit
of some star power from Francis Ng and Michelle Ye, it was really the
multi-character romances that were powering the show. How big was it? Big
enough to snag a New Year’s theatrical release for the big screen edition.
Hearts will be broken on multiple continents in Wilson Yip & Matt Chow’s Triumph in the Skies (trailer here), which is now
playing in New York and select markets.
Captain “Sam” Tong and his not-so-by-the-book co-pilot Jayden Koo used to be a
regular flight crew, but they have split up. Tong is still the senior officer
with Skylette, but the new boss’s son and heir apparent, Branson Cheung, has
assigned him to serve as the technical advisor for their new commercial starring
rock-star diva TM Tam. Nobody on-set wants to hear his quibbles, except maybe
Tam. There are such polar opposites, they naturally start to attract.
who also serves as a Skylette flight captain, is rather surprised to find his
old flame Cassie Poon Ka-sze is part of the crew on his newly assigned plane. She
is still disappointed he put their relationship on hold to please his father,
but the sparks are still there. Meanwhile, Koo or “Captain Cool,” has landed a
cushy job as the private pilot of a party plane, where he meets the seemingly
ambitionless Kika Sit. However, he realizes almost too late there is far more
to her story.
you have seen a few Chinese romantic comedies you will basically know what to
expect here, but Yip & Chow’s execution is wildly slick and lethally
effective. You are not likely to see a sparklier movie anytime soon. Triumph has so much jet-setting, it
makes Sex in the City look like EastEnders.
it is tons of manipulative, yet each of the three primary story arcs works
surprising well, with the best being Tong’s halting flirtation with Tam. It is
also the best written braided-storyline, featuring some wry, understated
dialogue and terrific chemistry between series veteran Francis Ng and Sammi
Cheng. You can almost think of it as an HK version of a James L. Brooks late
middle-age relationship film. She also performs a catchy punk version of “Over
the Rainbow” that will make you think that was what Harold Arlen & Yip
Harburg really had in mind the whole time.
contrast, Triumph totally goes for
the tears with Captain Cool’s possibly tragic romance, but Amber Kuo just
lights up the screen as Kika Sit. Of course, Julian Cheung is not exactly is
not exactly a jowly sourpuss either—and they both know how to crank up the cute
in their big feature spots.
third romance starring Louis Koo is a lot like an HK rom-com starring Louis
Koo, but it is still one of the better ones. Again, he and Charmaine Sheh have
surprisingly strong chemistry. However, the notion of an attractive working
woman sitting around waiting for the man who walked out of her life to saunter
back might not sit too well with American audiences.
the vaguely Leni Riefenstahl-ish title, Triumph
in the Skies is a pleasingly upbeat and colorful film. These days, it is
just no fun whatsoever to fly on a commercial airliner or schlep through an
airport, but it would be worth taking off your belt and shoes to fly with the
ridiculously good looking crews of Skylette. Maybe it is a guilty pleasure, but
it is fun. Recommended for those looking for an entertaining movie romance that
pretty much covers all the bases, Triumph
is now playing in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Amber Kuo, Francis Ng, Hong Kong Cinema, Louis Koo, Triumph in the Skies franchise, Wilson Yip