Peg O’ My Heart

World Premiere | In Competition


Guest star:
Nick CHEUNG, director, writer and actor


With just four films beneath his belt as a director, actor Nick Cheung, who won multiple acting awards for Beast Stalker (2008) and Unbeatable (2013), has already established a personal style and narrative concerns that recur throughout his films. His first two directorial efforts Hungry Ghost Ritual (2014) and Keeper of Darkness (2015) were quirky horror-thrillers, and his latest directorial effort Peg O’ My Heart (2024) follows neatly in their footsteps. Like those films, Peg O’ My Heart features effective details and spooky jump scares, while also offering an offbeat sense of humor, complicated characters, and nods towards current events or social issues.

Also common to all Nick Cheung films: he stars in them. Here, Cheung plays Choi San-keung, a taxi driver who perpetually lacks sleep, thus endangering anyone who sets foot in his taxi. One passenger is psychiatrist Dr. Man (Terrance Lau), who survives the taxi ride and offers to help Choi. The offer is refused, but Choi later becomes Dr.

Man’s involuntary patient after a particularly egregious night of driving. Dr. Man has his own personal issues: his motto is “I think a doctor should do more than prescribe meds,” which means a doctor should also investigate his patients secretly in defiance of common sense and hospital protocol.

In a parallel to Choi San-keung, Dr. Man also has sleeping issues. He suffers from disturbing dreams of his deceased mother, which hints at a secret involving his father (Ben Yuen), and perhaps some repressed memories. Both Dr. Man and Choi San-keung are characters tortured by dark pasts, and acknowledging these memories is key to solving their problems in the present. These types of complicated characters and situations are not easy to handle for any filmmaker, but Cheung has had experience, attempting meditations on morality and justice using complex characters in his earlier works. If nothing else, Cheung does not lack ambition.

Of particular note, Cheung enjoys being playful with his films, often surprising audiences with deadpan humor or offbeat moments. In Peg O’ My Heart, Cheung turns a freakout by Choi San-keung’s ailing wife Fiona (Fala Chen) into a lyrical moment where she and her husband escape a group of same-faced pursuers by running down the street in romantic slow motion. Cheung also pays sharp attention to local superstitions, and references local tragedies using the dark pasts of Choi San-keung and Fiona, which turns them from unfortunate characters into ones whose suffering may not be undeserved.

The genre elements are well-executed. Cinematographer Jason Kwan is one of Hong Kong’s best, and lenses Cheung’s psychological illusions with exceptional artistry. Cheung also serves up the requisite scares well, going into visceral, bloody detail on more than one occasion. Besides attempting complex characters and stories, Cheung also seems more than a little interested in commercialism. His films are often packed with stars and star cameos, and he lines up one very big star for a couple of scenes in Peg O’ My Heart, including a mid-credits stinger that almost looks like a setup for a sequel. It doesn’t seem likely that any sequel would involve Nick Cheung’s Choi San-keung, as that story seems more-or-less wrapped up. For Nick Cheung the director, however, there are stories still to be told.

Ross Chen
Film director: Nick CHEUNG
Year: 2024
Running time: 97'
Country: Hong Kong
30/04 - 9:40 PM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
30-04-2024 21:40 30-04-2024 23:17Europe/Rome Peg O’ My Heart Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine