《冲上云霄》Triumph In The Skies – A review

A long, long time ago when I was a J-drama fan, I watched an 11-episode drama series “Good Luck” starring Kimura Takuya and Shibasaki Kou, featuring a story about pilots, flight stewardess and aircraft maintenance engineers . When TVB released a similar drama but with 40 episodes, I resisted watching it, thinking that such a ‘draggy programme’ cannot be better than “Good Luck.” My friends convinced me otherwise and I did eventually catch 《冲上云霄》 starring Flora Chan, Moylie Wu & Francis Ng. The show absolutely captured my imagination and remained a favourite of mine since. When TVB released 《冲上云霄II》in 2013, I was very excited, but at the same time, I was afraid that perfection would be destroyed and hence, I did not catch it. I must say that I was and still am tempted to… after hearing all the rave reviews about the series. However, for various reasons, I still have yet to watch it and since a move version has been released, I decided to skip 《冲上云霄II》and watch the movie instead.

冲上云霄

Unfortunately, the movie was in many ways a disappointment. The move was split three ways, telling three separate stories of the three male leads – Branson (Louis Koo), Sam (Francis Ng) and Jayden (Julian Cheung). At no point in the movie, other than during credits, did the three male leads appear in the same scene. Not only that, applying the lens of plot development, there was sadly no development in this movie. I was hard pressed to identify conflict and resolution in any of these micro stories. As each story had only 1/3 time to develop, it was really not surprising to end up with a rather flat production with very little to engage the audience.

The three leading actors were paired up with three leading ladies – Charmaine Sheh, Sammi Cheng and Amber Kuo – to enact their respective love story. Well, at least the movie has a focus – romance. Unfortunately, there was again very little context for first time audience and if it weren’t for the fact that these were familiar characters, I would have had problems following the non-existent storyline. (At the end of the movie, my cousin who was watching this for the first time was still trying to clarify who’s who!) Given the thin storyline and weak characterisation, it was hardly surprising to find that even the romance felt unrealistic. Everything happened too quickly and was rather unconvincing.

That said, the movie also had redeeming qualities. Depending on how you take to cheesy dialogue and scenes, which the movie had its fair share of, you might find yourself enjoying the comic parts of the movie. Francis Ng, was commendable in this efforts as Sam, bringing to life his onscreen character that was rather neurotic. He was the reason for many laughters heard in the theatre. Other than eye candy in the form of the leading actors and actresses, the cinematography of the movie was also something to watch out for. Much effort was put into capturing the best scenery, creating the right atmosphere for each portrayal of romance. The efforts spent on composition and framing were not wasted; the movie was beautifully made and felt like a 2-hour long MTV.

In some ways, the movie worked… beautiful scenery, good-looking actors and actresses, comical moments, romance… it was a formula that could not go wrong. Yet, on another level, this movie was a sell-out. 《冲上云霄》for me was always more than a love story of the lead characters; it also featured the hardships of an industry that was always portrayed as glamorous and cool. It articulated the complexities of air travel and the hard work of all the unsung heroes that ensured flight safety. The movie touched on this briefly – a moment – at its start, and this ‘theme’ was discarded almost immediately.

At the end of the day, while this movie was disappointing, it was for me a walk down the memory lane, a good reminder of 《冲上云霄》and a chance to enjoy the theme song again.

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