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Fly Me To Polaris (1999)

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-Richie Ren
-Cecilia Cheung
-William So
-Eric Tsang


Richie Ren plays Onion, a young man who is blind and dumb. He has a job at a local hospital as a typist. Here he also is a patient. He develops a caring relationship with a nurse named Autumn (Cecilia Cheung). He loves her and she loves him, but they never admit it to each other. Unfortunately, in a freak accident, Onion is killed when he gets hit by a car. He has the luck of being only one in many million people who go to Polaris (basically, heaven) who gets to have one wish. He wishes to come back to earth to see Autumn. It is agreed, but he only gets five days and no one will recognize him. He is unable to reveal his identity. How can he tie up loose ends with Autumn?


If you want sappy romance, you have come to the right place. "Fly Me To Polaris" is a tear-jerker if there ever was one. In many ways, it could be faulted for being such a clichéd romance. On the other hand, it must be given credit for doing what it sets out to do so well. It may be clichéd, it may have some flaws, but it definitely hits harder than many other similar clichéd romance movies out there. It's not Oscar material, but a great viewing for the hopeless romantic in all of us.

"Fly Me To Polaris" lays on the sappy romance clichés thick. The first sound of the saxophone will immediately alert you to that. It certainly doesn't stop there when it comes to pulling those tears from your eyes. We've got major crying scenes, romantic diary entries, the whole nine yards. But, boy, does it do it all so well. Don't go thinking you're a tough guy (or girl). When you see Cecilia balling, it's futile to fight the tears (I had the difficult situation of trying to watch the film when other guys were around, I just had to keep it to a minimum so they didn't notice). This film just has all the right factors in place to succeed as a tear-jerker and better many similar efforts.

The characters themselves are one of the main reasons that the film can succeed. The viewer gets such a good vibe from both of the leads here. To see how Onion and Autumn act so happy when they are together really drives the relationship forward, making us care that much more that they didn't get to take the relationship further before he dies. This makes his struggle to let her know of his love, without being able to reveal his identity, that much more involving. Cecilia Cheung should also get a lot of credit for the success of this film herself. Without her overflowing personality and some key emotional scenes, the viewer would never be able to care enough about the relationsip. Richie Ren is solid, but not exceptional in his performance. I found his performance as the more happy "pre-death" Onion much more enjoyable than the frustrated Onion of the later part of the film. Still, he gets the job done overall.

Jingle Ma is at the helm of this one, and he should also get plenty of credit for how he handles this film. Many people may know him from films like "Tokyo Raiders" and "Hot War". While we don't see all the spiffy camera effects of those films here (aside from a little bit in one particular sequence), he definitely knows how to capture an image. More subtle examples are just those of how he frames scenes where Onion and Autumn are interacting. Less subtle are the awesome nighttime city images in the middle of the film. I have always thought that cinematographers turned directors tend to make very stylish films. Jingle Ma is the ultimate example of this.

Be prepared - "Fly Me To Polaris" is clichéd, tear-jerking romance all the way through. But, it is tear-jerking romance at some of its best. While the sheer volume of clichés and a couple acting issues hurt the film a bit, the characters and relationships, and its overall presentation really work in the film's favor. Most important, and the way that I was able to judge the film, is the emotional reaction it invokes. Even fighting with all my strength, I was barely able to keep the tears at a bare minimum. A movie that does that certainly deserves a look, especially when you consider that it takes a hell of a lot to get tears out of me.


-Jingle Ma


-Original Cantonese language.