Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung won the 2003 Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Director with his comedy “Men Suddenly in Black.” With his third film “Beyond Our Ken” (2004), Pang demonstrates talent consistency in directing and writing. Starring Hong Kong idols Daniel Wu (“Gen X-Cops,” “New Police Story”), Gillian Chung (“The Twins Effect I & II”), and Tao Hong of China, “Beyond Our Ken” tells a thought-provoking, and somewhat cynical, story about love and trust. Chan Wai-Ching (Gillian Chung) is an ostensibly reserved schoolteacher; Shirley (Tao Hong) is a delightfully cheerful waitress at a karaoke bar; and firefighter Ken (Daniel Wu) is a man they have in common.
The first twenty minutes of the film establishes that Wai-Ching is Ken’s ex and Shirley is the current flame. The former girlfriend approaches the present girlfriend with a request for a favor. According to Wai-Ching, after Ken broke up with her, he posted semi-nude pictures of them on an internet discussion board, which caused Wai-Ching to lose her job. She asks Shirley to help her by deleting the rest of the pictures from Ken’s computer. The current girlfriend agrees to Wai-Ching’s proposition and what begins as a plan between strangers to right a wrong (and to prevent another one) turns into an act of retaliation between friends. Up until the halfway point, the film depicts Wai-Ching as understandably heartbroken and upset. As she and Shirley spend more time together, though, you start to wonder if Wai-Ching doesn’t have an ulterior motive.
The Chinese title of “Beyond Our Ken” is “Gong Ju Fuk Sau Gei” in Cantonese and “Gong Zhu Fu Chou Ji” in Mandarin, meaning “record of (a) princess’s revenge.” Since there is no quantifying character, it is unclear whether or not there is one or more than one princess. This ambiguity is nonetheless quite fitting in terms of plot-twist and psychology. Pang’s film ends with an implicit warning: to polygamous boyfriends everywhere, there may be a friendship brewing between your ex and your new girlfriend. Your only relevant mistake may have been to dump your ex twenty-four hours before Valentine’s Day, but according to “Beyond Our Ken” that action is enough to lead to your undoing.