Having built a reputation for sharp black comedy with his You Shoot, I Shoot and Men Suddenly in Black, director Pang Ho-cheung took an about turn to capture darker drama in Beyond Our Ken. Pang’s most polished work to date, Beyond Our Ken carefully develops the relationship between its two female leads, each unfortunate enough to become romantically involved with a serial womaniser.
When nude photos of Ching (Gillian Chung) are posted online, she loses her teaching job and declares her intent to reclaim the pictures from her ex-boyfriend Ken (Daniel Wu). Ching approaches Ken’s current flame, Shirley (Tao Hong), who may have saucy bedroom photos of her own to retrieve, and the pair hatch plans to sneak into Ken’s home and delete files from his computer. Scheming soon gets underway as the women sort out how first to grab Ken’s keys and then get past the grandmother he lives with, and all the while the pair take cautious steps into a relationship of their own.
Presented in a clever non-linear approach, director Pang’s story of female bonding and revenge moves at a calmer pace than his previous work while effectively leaving viewers in the dark about any larger pictures. Up-and-coming cinematographer Charlie Lam’s largely handheld camera work provides an intimate view of proceedings while music, ranging from Mozart to Italian singer Gianna Nannini, takes on an important role in building moods. Comic touches aren’t absent from proceedings, however, with fun to be found in Ken’s pickup lines and the girls’ flashbacks to dreadful past dates. Top-billed Gillian Chung and Tao Hong work off each other well, with Chung rising to the occasion for her most mature screen role yet alongside her accomplished mainland co-star, and Daniel Wu plays up his part as the man in the middle.