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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   My Left Eye Sees Ghosts  


My Left Eye Sees Ghosts

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Chinese Title: Wo zuo yan jian dao gui
Directors: Johnny To, Wai Ka-Fai
Writing credits: Au Kin Yee, Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi
Cast:: Sammi Cheng, Lam Chi-Sing, Lam Suet
Genre: Comedy Horror
Language: Cantonese
Country: Hong Kong
Year released: 2002
Rating: ** (out of four stars)

My Left Eye Sees Ghosts sounds like a parody of recent moderate box office success The Eye, but it’s actually Just Another Sammi Cheng Movie. My Left Eye is more a romantic comedy than anything else, with Sammi Cheng assuming the now-familiar role of the female romantic lead. It seems that Sammi Cheng is fast becoming Asia’s Meg Ryan, who has too many romantic comedies to her name as well. This time, she teams up with another Hong Kong film veteran, Lau Ching Wan, in an attempt to give a new spin to the old-hat human-ghost love story. It doesn’t really succeed in bringing anything new to the genre, but Sammi Cheng and Lau Ching Wan manage to put in a commendable effort, and there is at least one plot conceit that I wasn’t able to predict, surprising for a movie that is so by-the-numbers.

May Ho (Sammi Cheng) has been grieving over the death of her very well off husband Daniel for three years, although they got married merely seven days after they’ve met. Almost killed in a car accident, May finds that her left eye is suddenly able to peer into the spiritual world. One of the spirits she comes into contact with is Ken (Lau Ching Wan), a friendly ghost who claims to be her primary school classmate. Soon, a true friendship blossoms between May and Ken, despite the difficulties of such a bond.

May also gradually comes to realize that not all the ghosts are ill intentioned (think The Sixth Sense), and in particular tries to help out a fat and unattractive female ghost. Her relationship with Daniel’s family also improves following her accident, and relationships are mended and improved. Despite her life changing for the better, however, May still pines for Daniel, and wonders why she could never see him despite having "second sight." As May and Ken become closer and closer, it starts to become more apparent that there is more to their past relationship than simply being primary school classmates?

There is never a scary moment throughout My Left Eye, and audiences looking for some thrills and spills ought to look elsewhere. What the movie does dish up, however, is a fair amount of jokes, some of which are moderately funny. There are no true laugh-out-loud moments, but there will be scenes that put a smile on your lips. Directors Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai, rather prolific directors of late, have managed to produce yet another cookie cutter movie. The movie happily chugs along predictably, but then suddenly, it seems as though the filmmakers decided to throw in a social message, and the final reel becomes a melancholic look at love and loss. It doesn’t really segue well with the rest of the movie, and the many lingering shots of Sammi Cheng looking pensive in the last half hour, although flattering to her thespian skills, feels too much like an extended, unnecessary MTV.

Yet, kudos must be given to both Sammi Cheng and Lau Ching-Wan, with Cheng portraying a gamut of emotions, doing especially well in the melancholy department, and Lau coming across as exceptionally effervescent and totally likeable. I must admit that despite being a jaded moviegoer, there were several scenes where Sammi Cheng’s acting was actually tugging at my heartstrings. The rest of the cast, however, is entirely one-dimensional and doesn’t add or detract from the film much. And this is really the essence of Hong Kong movies these days - take an old premise, throw in a few movie stars to assure box office takings, and watch the money roll in, or not. In this case, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, doesn’t look like a high-cost production, and with its strengths, should at least be able to recoup its costs.

Final Word: My Left Eye Sees Ghosts sags a little in the final reel, but as a Hong Kong production, is a pleasant enough diversion to sit through. Definitely a better film if watched in its original Cantonese incarnation.