He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father! with Tony Leung Ka-fai, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Carina Lau Ka-ling, Anita Yuen Wing-yee, and Lawrence Cheng Tan-sui. Directed by Pete Chan Ho-sun, Chi Lee Chi-ngai. Empress circuit. The Trail, with Jiang Wen, Alex Man Chi-leung, Yu Li, and Ken Tsang Kong. Directed by Manfred Wong (Man Chun) and Zhou Xiaowen. In Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles. On Panasia circuit. THE team who made Tom, Dick, & Hairy is reunited for the equally playfully titled He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father! The kernel of the idea may be from Back to the Future, but directors Pete Chan and Chi Lee have attempted more than just another Hollywood rip-off, employing the time-travel premise as a departure point from which to shed light on the changing nature of Hong Kong society. Or, at least, that's what I assume. There are many good ideas, gags and jokes floating around in this comedy - so many that it seems as if the film-makers were sidetracked from their main theme. The results are frequently amusing, in a disjointed kind ofway, but the movie lacks emotional resonance. Cho Yuen (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) is a womanising, opportunistic young man who has an extreme antagonism towards his father (Tony Leung Ka-fai), an idealist whose altruism and sense of righteousness have left his family in relative poverty. To put it simply, the elder Cho has a 50s sense of chivalry that is sadly out of place in the frenzied 90s. Through a cinematic miracle, the son is transported back to 1958, where he experiences firsthand the life of that era and comes to appreciate his parents' values and self-sacrifices. The script's chief flaw is a lack of sense of discovery. Cho Yuen's journey back in time seems somewhat aimless, especially when compared to models such as Back to the Future. One never gets the impression that the young man has uncovered fundamental truths or come to any profound revelations regarding himself or his parents. What we do have is a surplus of cute gags. The Cho family live in an apartment that is right out of a 50s-era Cantonese movie, populated with characters whose names - and roles - come from those black-and-white pictures. There's little Bo-bo, scrubbing clothes and doing all the household chores (in the manner of child star Fung Bo-bo, the Shirley Temple of Hong Kong movies); and a host of other 50s stereotypes. It's all very whimsical, but doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than being mildly facetious. The same can be said about running gags such as the appearance, back in the 50s, of teenage Martin Lee and a still poverty-stricken Li Ka-shing. Amusing anecdotes, but the screen time would have been better spent developing the father-son ties and the links between past and present. THERE will probably be a lot of films like The Trail in the next few years. A true Hong Kong-mainland Chinese hybrid, this ''road film'' is co-directed by a Hong Konger (Manfred Wong) and a mainlander (Zhou Xiaowen, whose No Regrets About Youth was reviewed last week); co-scripted by Wong and Beijing Film Academy professor Ni Zhen; and co-stars Jiang Wen, China's most popular male star, and Hong Kong's Alex Man. The final result is so much a hybrid of commercial styles, though, that rather than being at the forefront of an exciting new species, the movie is something of a mongrel. In the tradition of road pictures everywhere, The Trail covers a lot of territory. Public Security officer Lei Xiaobao (Jiang Wen) is on the trail of Chan Chi-leung (Alex Man), a Hong Kong businessman suspected of fraud. The road they roam stretches from Beijing to Inner Mongolia and south to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, running the producers into the danger of turning the film into a superficial travelogue on China's jolly minorities and their jolly customs. While short on thrills, the movie boasts some clever dialogue and occasionally shows a few insights into the prejudices that exist between mainlanders and their colonial compatriots. Had the film-makers further explored these avenues, The Trail might have been a cinematic road more worth travelling.