You are currently displaying Big5
Y (2000)
To Where He Belongs

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 02/13/2006

Simon Yam Tat-Wah and Gigi Lai Chi are two-thirds of a triad love triangle in a new film directed by cinematographer turned director Ally Wong Ka-Fai. Though one might admire his interesting choices of subject matter and mise-en-scene, his first three films were low/no budget projects that had very little success at the box office. To Where He Belongs is Ally Wong's fourth feature film as a director. With this film, production values are higher but most of the money went to paying the lead actors.

An oddball screenplay blends a bizarre love story with a generic triad revenge melodrama. Simon Yam turns in an unusually gentle, sympathetic performance as a gangster boss who falls in love with a young girl who also happens to be dating his
younger henchman. Director Wong continues to develop his quirky, experimental directorial style making To Where He Belongs a unique cinematic viewing experience for the discriminating viewer.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/27/2005

Despite Simon Yam possibly being one of the coolest people on the face of the earth and a damn good actor to boot, he can't save To Where He Belongs from being anything more than an average Triad movie. From beginning to end, the film is underwhelming in every sense of the word. Even the novice Hong Kong film viewer has seen this kind of stuff done before, and done better.

In the movie, Simon plays the usual "hard-ass gangster with a heart of gold" who falls for a girl (Gigi Leung) with a terminal disease. The problem is that she's also dating his right-hand man (Steven Ma), and the gang war erupting is putting a strain on the relationship. This is by-the-book Triad stuff all the way, right down to the schmaltzy Cantopop ballads.

Gigi Lai. Image courtesy of WideSight.
Even though the actors generally do a good job, the problem is that the script depends so much of melodrama that their performances seem forced. When coupled with a lack of action, To Where He Belongs just ends up feeling flat. This reviewer might be a bit jaded after watching hundreds of these types of films, but To Where He Belongs lacks any sort of spark which makes a good movie all that more watchable.

There is nothing really horrible with To Where He Belongs, but there is really nothing to compel a potential viewer to watch this instead of dozens of other choices. Simon Yam has done much better work in other movies, Gigi Lai was more convincing (and sexier) in the Young and Dangeorus films, and if you're looking for some good old-fashioned Triad violent bits, you won't find them here. Unless you're a die-hard Simon Yam fan and must see every single movie he's been in, you're better off leaving this one for a "rainy day" rental.

[review from]

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 05/09/2002
Summary: Average

Stars out pretty bad, but picks up halfway through. However, even then it's nothing great. If you like crime films, then this one is entertaining enough, as long as you have nothing else too much better to watch.

Rating: 2.5/5

Reviewed by: Fatty
Date: 07/30/2001
Summary: ok film with some ok characters (Except for Simon Yam and Gigi Lai ofcourse :) )

Basically the story revolves around three people, two of them who are part of the same Triad fall in love with Gigi Lai's character, while having somewhat of a feud with Tung. Alot of weird crap happens until we get to the scrap at the end....

Very weird film I guess, about how 2 guys of the same gang fall in love with a girl, I was scratching my head cause why didn't Simon go after Gigi's friend? I would've gone with her, but nope. He falls in love with the girl that stole his nifty silver lighter, and gets into a little shuffle with Ma Chun Wai's character.

Anyways, I thought the film was ok. It was a dark film and in just about every scene, somebody is smoking. I really like Triad films but this one didn't cut it for me, it had some ok characters, a weird villian who took a piss on Ma Chun Wai which was way nasty (If he took a crap on him, this would've been good for German porn or whatever) a dude who loved his lighter, which I thought was cool. A Lighter can be a good friend....hehe. I wasn't really bored out of my mind with this flick except for the parts with Simon Yam and Gigi Lai (Which was basically all of the movie)The ending to me was very predictable, you know that Simon Yam is gonna get into a big rumble and somewhat get killed in it, while Gigi Lai hovers over him crying her eyes out. It was a cool ending IMO cause Tung was out eating supper when all of a sudden Simon Yam comes along to chop up Tung a couple new assholes...

In all, a ok Triad film that could've been better, the acting was pretty good especially Simon Yam and the troubled girl Gigi Lai. IMO I think it's easy for Simon Yam to be a dark Triad dude...:)


This so called review is brought to you by Fatty

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 02/06/2001
Summary: Strong Simon in a Poorly Handled Film

Simon Yam puts in a strong performance in "To Where He Belongs," but he can't save this film, blandly directed by Ally Wong. Simon plays an aging gangster who wants to leave the triad world. Yam, along with his protege, Ma Chun Wai and Gigi Lai Chi form a love triangle that is the basis for the movie. The first two-thirds of the film is established in a parallel structure where the domestic love triangle is shown with a cliched melody playing in the background. These scenes are then contrasted with the triad life with a driving dance beat mix. These two motifs are repeated over and over until the audience gets bored by the presentation. Finally, the last third of the film frees itself from this narrative convention and the movie takes off. But this happens much too late as all the film's energy has been siphoned off by the predictable and dull pacing.

The film's best moments happen during the frenetic last third of the movie, when the love triangle clashes with the triad life. A prime example is when Gigi does the shotgun joint for Simon. Such scenes get lost on the road to Ally Wong's poor story telling.

Reviewed by: Paul Fonoroff
Date: 11/23/2000

Viewers who leave To Where He Belongs during the first reel may be forgiven for thinking this is just another triad melodrama. It isn’t. Despite an opening that is not too different than the myriad of low budget gangster pictures Hong Kong audiences have been subjected to during the past decade, this one gradually weaves an intricate web of relationships that clearly stamps the picture as something above the run-of-the-mill.

The characters and situations populating Anthony Chan Chi-hung’s script seem familiar enough. Wui (Simon Yam Tat-wah) is an aging hoodlum whose values belong to an earlier generation, when loyalty and honour meant almost as much as superior fighting skills. Wui’s chief henchman, Fung (Steven Ma Chun-wai), is more impetuous and hot-headed, but totally devoted to his mentor until a woman comes between them. She is Yuet (Gigi Lai Chi), a good-time girl with an “I don’t care” attitude that both Fung and Wui find irresistible. A turf war with unscrupulous gang leader Tung (Ben Ng Ngai-cheung) threatens to end all their lives.

Yes, it sounds all-too-familiar, but Chan’s script and Ally Wong Ka-fai’s direction transform it into something more. Yuet, who starts out as such a stereotypical “bad girl”, ends up having facets that few celluloid gang molls possess. Even the hackneyed device of her potentially fatal illness adds depth rather than cheap tears. Yuet’s sense of her own mortality stands in stark contrast to the tough guys who seem to take their lives—and the possibility of early deaths—for granted.

A dark humour pervades Yuet’s exchanges with the people in her life. When Wui declines to go out on a date with Yuet on the pretext of having to look after his elderly uncle’s book stall, she places a little sign next to the sleeping white-haired gentleman: “Closed today due to death of owner.” After Fung impetuously Yuet on another occasion, he asks her, “Didn’t you have any feeling when I held you?” “Yes,” she replies. “I felt like dying.” Both instances provoked huge laughs from the audience at the film’s premiere.

The bonds between Yuet and her hospitalized grandmother are bittersweet, the two carping at each other but only thinly masking an underlying love. When the wheelchair-bound lady states, “At least granny was young once. I don’t know if you’ll ever be old,” the sentiments evoked are both droll and poignant.

Wong’s direction is sometimes crude, as when he intercuts a nightclub beating with bad guy Tung relieving himself in the toilet. The movie also has more than its share of typical triad rumbles, with Tung at one point urinating into the vanquished Fung’s mouth. There are also the inevitable song montages, inevitable since two cast members (Steve Ma and Ray Chan Kin-wing) are also singers. But these cliches are more than balanced by a number of unusual touches, such as the food stall where the proprietor doesn’t bring the customers what they order but what they want.

As Wui, Simon Yam follows up his triad boss in Juliet in Love with another nuanced gangster portrayal (though one wonders how the down-and-out Wui had time for the tanning salon). Gigi Lai, in one of the pithiest roles of her big screen career, gives Yuet an understated pathos.

The movie’s philosophy is symbolized by Wui’s cigarette lighter, an expensive silver number that Yuet initially plans to toss out when it runs out of fuel. By the end of the film, she realizes that things of value are worth replenishing no matter how great the effort. The lesson of To Where He Belongs is to not judge a movie by its first reel.

This review is copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Fonoroff. All rights reserved. No part of the review may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 08/12/2000
Summary: Average

Simon yam again hey!!
Well i agree with what RYAN says.
Average movie which i felt quite bored at. I CAN'T BELIEVE girls whould so easily go for triad guys? Is this common in hong kong? I mean haven't GIRLS seen enough movies where triad members get butchered and they use the girlfriends against them? Just this IDEA is stupid already.

Simon Yam is respected triad, but yet has only 1 follower? BAD ending as well which you will be disappointed watching. I have been noticing that hong kong movies are suffering from producing a good ending!!

Enough said, not special about this movie, nothing good to say about it.


Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 03/23/2000
Summary: Ally has improved a bit, but still brings it down a little

Ally WONG Ka-fai started out as a director three years ago and has tried different styles like a crime story in "Wipe Out" and a ghost story in "Fourteen Days Before Suicide". This time he focuses on a triad story "To Where He Belongs To". Will this new direction be an improvement?

Boss Hui, a triad under Uncle Hing teams Fung and Mushroom. Hui saves Yuet's drink shop and Fung meets Yuet in a disco. The two relationships are set up then but Hui and Fung don't know that they love Yuet at the same time. Tung, who previously had conflicts with Fung and Mushroom switches from Uncle Hing to Keung. Tung even looks for revenge. To be able to establish his reputation in the gang as well as to help Yuet to get the medical fee for her operation overseas, Fung decides to sell drugs in Tung's place with Mushroom. However, they were caught out by Tung and were badly beaten. Hui decides he wants revenge against Tung. He tries to negotiate with Tung but is suddenly hurt by Fung. Uncle Hing decides to ask the threesome to hide away in the mainland. Being unable to live in such style, Mushroom decides to join Tung and he even points out the hiding place for Tung and Hui ....

To audiences the roles are familiar and the story of the movie is just another old-fashioned Hong Kong triad movie. As expected, Simon YAM once again plays as a triad head. His performance is adequate in the movie because he has had plenty of practice. There is nothing special from Simon in the movie. The same thing applies to Ben NG, who has been in movies as bad triad guys or criminals from time to time.

The plot itself tells two stories. The first one is about the love in a triad society and is told through Yuet, Fung and Hui. At the same time, the movie focuses on the age gap between the older and the newer generations in a triad society. For the first part, the set up of Yuet as a disabled person tries to make the Fung's actions appear to be a rational and impressive decision. However, the dialogue is too weak to send this message to audiences.

The difference in opinions between Hui, Fung and Mushroom represents three different generations. The generation gap between Hui and Fung is very ably portrayed. The attempt to portray the generation gap between Fung and Mushroom however lacks enough detail and so is less effective.

Despite the stereotypical plot, it is interesting to note that some of the gags in the movie are very funny, like making use of government ads for Fung to teach Mushroom how to deal with different situations. This gives the movie a welcome sharp edge.

Yuet in the movie hasn't much to do. Her role in the movie is only a girl feeding up Tung and Fung. With the way her character is at the beginning of the movie, there should have been more depth to the interaction between Yuet and Fung.

When compared with Ally WONG's previous directorial efforts "To Where He Belongs" is an improvement. However, the stereotypical plot and the stereotyping of the actors brings it down a little.