*WARNING*: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.
A journey to find one’s own identity has been done numerous times with emotional breakdowns. But this one is totally different from that. I was thinking that it would begin with some really touching story and the whole growing up process before the actual journey to find out what had happened. So it’s really nice to see it differently with Yu Tong all grown up and has a career going already before going on the journey to find her parents.
Although the character was well crafted, I must say I was quite confused with Zuo Xiao Qing’s actions and emotions she displayed at various points of the movie. She seemed to display a contradicting attitude toward some parties or something. I could not relate to the fast transition between the aggressive, non-believer attitude when she was desperately trying to interview Mrs. Lin at the beginning and then changed her point of views afterward upon seeing how strongly Mr. and Mrs. Lin (portrayed by Chin Siu Ho and Liu Si Tong) felt toward their child–although there was such a slim chance of the baby surviving. However, I thought that other cast made it more bearable to watch, such as Nicky Wu’s charming performance as the mischievous yet considerate Zhi Xuan. Cecilia Yip made a guest appearance as Sister Zeng but was more convincing than ever with her brief scenes.
Aside from the subtle yet moving plot with various characters and their interactions in here, the scenes were also nice to see, especially the part where Zhi Xuan and Yu Tong were walking to the little village surrounded by water. There was also a part where they had to use the pulley to cross this one river. It was quite interesting because Nicky could show off his stunts. (I honestly hope he did it for real and not using a double to fool us.)
There were also other scenes as well to see the different regions and how different their lifestyles were. A lot of inspirational messages were weaved into this movie–both subtle and outright obvious. However, it was not overdone. It might receive some harsh critical comments for boredom or whatever else, but it was not meant to entertain. It was more to inform and let everyone see a different perspective.
The lighting might not be up to par in some of the scenes, but it was intended to show the realism of the actual environment that the people were living in, like the scene shown above.
Anyway, although I complained about Zuo Xiao Qing’s acting earlier, I must admit she did have the image for portraying such a role. Yes, her acting was not up to it. But she did have the look for it. Plus, she was cute with the scenes that were required for her playful actions. She just needed to convey her emotions more appropriately for the more controversial scenes. However, she did improve in the later scenes of the drama–not sure if it was filmed out of sequence but she did better in some scenes versus others. I especially like the scene where Yu Tong was trying to re-live the memory of her mother trying to bring her across the river by using the pulley and her (the mother’s) own strength to complete the mission. It was like she (Yu Tong) was trying to reconnect to the past and think in her mother’s situation of the hardship.
Another scene was the part where Yu Tong finally learned the truth that her mother never abandoned her, to begin with. The realization made her dazed and disoriented, grabbing onto Zhi Xuan for support–literally, trying to remember back. It was fast but traumatizing at the same time. However, Zuo Xiao Qing needs to stop breathing so hard. It would’ve been better to display her shocked and overwhelming feelings by using her hands or other gestures to convey the message better. (Breathing too much made it seem like she was suffering from an asthma attack.) The initial part with the breathing was a bit too much but the crying scene after improved a bit more.
Zuo Xiao Qing does look cute with Nicky though.
Talking about Nicky, even with age, he still has it with the whole acting. Didn’t deteriorate at all. Haven’t seen him since Heroes on a Silk Road (and that was ages ago). I just realized he’s turning 39 this year but wow. (Yes, you can see the age–sort of–but still a bit unbelievable.)
Back to the movie, it was very worthwhile watching it. After so many melodramatic productions, I think this would come off as a breath of fresh air. (Based on my opinion so don’t take my word for it.) This sort of restored my faith in watching more movies instead of just TV series.
There were of course some very humorous scenes in here–although kind of subtle to ease the thick intense atmosphere that was building around the whole journey Yu Tong was traveling through to uncover the truth. I’m talking about the guide (portrayed by Wu Ma) that they hired who was really full of himself for most of the movie, causing many humorous scenes. He referred to himself as the ‘living map’ and was also weaving his way into being an interpreter. It was hilarious that Zhi Xuan let him have his moments. Even if he was kind of humorous with his ‘know-it-all’ gestures but I must give him credit for taking it into his hand to lead the principal over to them so that the truth would come out instead of the one-sided assumptions from Yu Tong when they discovered her mother’s whereabouts. It really showed a different side of him versus the whole ‘goofy’ side. It also played into the whole idea with him being a ‘guide’ and then he was guiding the truth toward Yu Tong. (Neat concept!)
The most brilliant part of the story must be paving the way for Yu Tong’s mother and making us viewers guessing why. It was still typical that we might guess it was just for some selfish reason. But in this case, it was really for the ‘greater good’, not the usual ones that people toss around so loosely. That wasn’t the brilliant part I meant to say either. The brilliant part was where Yu Tong finally held all the pieces of the puzzle to her mother’s past, connecting with hers and looking toward the horizon. We then see the scenes of Yu Tong’s childhood but this time from her mother’s point of view. It was honestly touching with the music playing in the background and her subtle appearances at various points of Yu Tong’s life but making such an impact. (Worth a bunch of tears if you ask me.)
The ending scene was also a test of several related cases in this movie, i.e. the scene where the Taxi driver almost lost his kid. To say it in a mean sense, it would’ve been his ticket to freedom. But he chose to seek help in searching for his son again thus proving that he was a responsible and loving father. It really tied back to the first story at the beginning of the movie.
Conclusion? You just have to watch it to know what it’s like. But then again, if you think it’s too boring or not your type, you shouldn’t torture yourself with it.
Note: This movie was actually adapted by Director Jacob Cheung from Professor Lee Chia Tung’s short story “Ticket.”
*All images were scanned or captured by DTLCT