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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Return of the Cuckoo – Patrick Kong’s sequel treads on your love for the hit TV series

Big-screen sequel to much loved TVB drama from 2000 is tortuous and tasteless

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 1:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 1:56pm

The beloved characters from the hit TVB drama Return of the Cuckoo (2000) make a wholly avoidable comeback in this exploitative big-screen sequel. Written and directed by the talentless rom-com veteran Patrick Kong Pak-leung, who had no connection whatsoever to the original, this tearjerker-wannabe is an opportunistic product that takes great liberty to rain on your treasured memory.

WATCH Return of the Cuckoo trailer

The Macau-set TV series saw nice guy Man-cho (Julian Cheung Chi-lam) – who was traumatised as a kid into being temporarily mute by his birth mother and then raised by former nightclub singer Aunt Q (Nancy Sit Ka-yin) – fall deeply in love with the adoptive sister he grew up with, Kwan-ho (Charmaine Sheh Sze-man), before conceding her to a more resourceful friend, Lai-shun (Steven Ma Chun-wai).

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While the original story savoured the wisdom that the greatest love is the unrequited kind, the new film summons the characters for an unwarranted onslaught of misery – just so the will-they-won’t-they hook can live on. Indeed, viewers may be appalled from the start, when they learn that Lai-shun and his two children with Kwan-ho have been handily killed in a car crash that she feels responsible for.

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With much of the main cast back to reprise their roles, the story resumes in 2007 and quickly turns into a tortuous drag as Man-cho patiently nurses Kwan-ho – who is in grief but obviously single again! – back to life, although it would take several more years (on top of a landslide and a potentially fatal injury) to bring the star-crossed would-be lovers really together, family pressure be damned.

In a vicious twist that speaks volumes about Kong’s tasteless emotional manhandling, the film also sees Man-cho heartlessly lead on his long-time admirer Kiki (Joe Chen Chiau-en), a Zhuhai-born bakery girl who was born mute, while perpetually keeping her in the friend zone. No one comes out of this travesty looking good; Return of the Cuckoo is simply not the follow-up that anyone was asking for.

Return of the Cuckoo opened on November 12