The first few years since the establishment of Milkyway Image (HK) Ltd. production in 1996 largely consisted of crime genres until Derek Chiu’s Sealed With A Kiss <甜言蜜語> marked the production company’s first foray into romantic-drama genre.
But unlike subsequent years where Milkyway found bigger success with the Andy Lau-and-Sammi Cheng combo in Needing You… <孤男寡女> (2000) and Love On A Diet <瘦身男女> (2001), Sealed With A Kiss <甜言蜜語> was largely ignored at the time of its release in late 1999.
The movie involves Kam Shui (Louis Koo), a mute orphan living in the idyllic Peng Chau island where he works for his aunt managing an inn. Then one day, he meets a young woman named Mandy (Yoyo Mung) who recently broke up with her boyfriend over the phone and stay in the inn for a night. It doesn’t take long before the two become friends and Kam Shui starts to develop a feeling for her.
However, when Mandy returns to the inn a year later, Kam Shui finds out she has set her sights on a local fireman named Paul (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin). Instead of trying to express his true feeling to Mandy, he decided to help the two hooked up for each other.
Despite the title and even the inclusion of the 1960s classic love song of the same name itself, Derek Chiu and screenwriter Hui Hon eschew the mainstream-friendly approach of a romantic drama about a mute man falling for a heartbroken young woman.
What we have here instead is a deliberately-paced drama that takes its time to tell the story as the movie develops a would-be, slow-burning romance between Louis Koo’s Kam Shui and Yoyo Mung’s Mandy. It also helps that the quiet and mundane setting of Peng Chau island complements well with the overall naturalistic tone of the movie.
Of course, none of this would have worked if not for Louis Koo and Yoyo Mung — easily the MVPs of the movie. Koo successfully pulls off his demanding performance of a mute character as Kam Shui while then-up-and-coming actress Yoyo Mung continues to prove she’s a great asset as one of Milkyway’s regular actresses at the time. Not to mention both of them share wonderful chemistry together.
Whereas Sealed With A Kiss <甜言蜜語> is largely Louis Koo and Yoyo Mung’s show, the movie also benefits from solid supporting roles including Sue Au Suk-Jing as Kam Shui’s tomboy-ish best friend, Angel and Raymond Wong Ho-Yin as the shy and reserved local fireman Paul. Also, look out for then-unknown Danny Chan Kwok-Kwan appearing in a small role as a yellow-haired gangster.
Although Derek Chiu did an overall good job in his movie, there are times he made odd creative choices every now and then. This can be evidently seen during Cheung Tung-Leung’s sped-up camerawork that looks awkwardly misplaced. Then, there’s the controversial ending. The kind that make-or-break whatever scenes have been developed earlier. Personally, I found the ending feels too abrupt for its own good as if the director wants to remind us we are watching a Milkyway film after all.