Lost and Found
Hong Kong 1996
Directed by Lee Chi-Ngai.


Kelly Chen is the daughter of a rich shipping magnate, who finds out she has leukemia. She tries getting a job at the shipyards, where she meets a handsome and kind scotsman, improbably played by Michael Wong, of all people. One day he disappears, and she in despair runs into a young, enthusiatic Mongolian immigrant named, in the subtitles, "That Worm" (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who runs a Lost and Found business, helping people find anything from wallets to cell phones to people. She is looking for "Hope". He helps her to find it, and find the Scotsman of her dreams, and is inspired to visit him at The End of the World, back in his homeland, where god help us, Michael Wong puts on a kilt and plays the bagpipe.

There's something inherently silly about a movie which expects us to believe Michael Wong is a scotsman, even if he says his mother is Chinese. Perhaps if he had even a slight scottish accent or could pronounce "Greenwich" correctly (he says Green Witch) it might've helped. But no matter. He gives a good performance from the heart and I'm not going to make fun of it. At least, not any more than I already have.

LOST AND FOUND is one of those movies that inhabit a surreal world which appears real but yet is populated by people who are two kind by half, who are saint-like in their selflessness. Michael Wong is one, but the big offender is angelic "That Worm", who hires all crippled employees to work with him, and is friends with everyone on the street. Cheung Tat-Ming plays his limping assistant, while Maria Cordero has a great bit part as the constantly complaining mother of another of his assistants, a young girl who acts as his phone receptionist.

As Kelly Chen is dying of cancer, she keeps looking for a magician to make everything alright. She doesn't find just one, she finds two, but the real delight of LOST AND FOUND is that she learns magicians don't perform miracles. Instead, you must simply make the best of your efforts so there are no regrets later. "That Worm" only finds 10-20 percent of everything people request. He doesn't regard it as a failure, because it is the attempt that is worth the making, not the outcome.

LOST AND FOUND is a "terminal disease romance" with a difference, ultimately about hope, about finding yourself before meeting your death, and even surviving beyond death in memory. Released in 1996, it's also hard not to notice the handover (of HK from England to China) as a subtext of the story. The person in Hong Kong has hope, despite poor prospects, while she considers fleeing overseas to find peace. But ultimately, she discovers "you can never forget your home." Lee Chi-Ngai captures Hong Kong in a documentary flavor, as if recording it, too, for the last time before passing on.

Ultimately, one forgives LOST AND FOUND its angelic characters, one forgives even being forced to see Michael Wong in a kilt. Because LOST AND FOUND is a beautiful movie, and why can't we believe there are people like that? And the world is like that? For a little while, at least, we can.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on January 21, 2005.


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