Triumph in the Skies: Adaptation from hugely successful Hong Kong TV series

This is film version of hugely successful Hong Kong TV series centered on an airline crew. And their drama and hijinx across multiple Asian cities.

Even if you are not an avid fan of TVB series, but if you have an inkling about it’s existence. Then I guarantee that at the very least, you’ve heard about the series known as Triumph in the Skies. Premiered back in 2003, (that’s 12 years mind you, not 7) it garnered a HUGE, MASSIVE following and instantly turned everyone’s biggest wish into something along the lines of ‘I want to be a pilot’. This in turn lead to a sequel, Triumph in the Skies II that was released in 2015 which, once more, made people want to do nothing but register themselves into a flying academy.

Now, I was only a kid when the first season came out. And I watched it, and I remember loving it. However, 12 years is a very long time so all that’s left in my memory is a bit of a haze; all I remember are bits and pieces, random scenes from it. And for reasons that I don’t really know, I never watched the second one despite loving the first. So I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the series. 12 years is more than enough for me to get over something.

What I’m trying to say is: I went in not as a fan, with a bit of an expectation that it would be good due to the fanfare surrounding it.

Triumph in the Skies (Nu Tiep Vien Hang Khong) would have made you think that like the TV shows it was based on, is about pilots and flying and airplanes. But you would be surprised at how little time is actually spent in the plane. The majority of the film is spent instead, in London and Brighton.

The film mainly tells the story of three pairs of couple; pilot as well as owner of Skylette Airlines, Branson (Louis Koo ) and air-stewardess Ah Sze (Charmaine Sheh); Captain Samuel Tong (Francis Ng) and rock star cum diva TM (Sammi Cheng); Jayden AKA Captain Cool (Julien Cheung AKA Chilam ) and the character played by Amber Kuo.

(Here’s a little rant: I don’t remember Amber’s character ever being named in the movie. I swear. It’s either they really never did tell us because they never filmed a scene of introduction for her or they edited that scene out, or it may have completely left my mind, I don’t know. But wiki tells me it’s Kika, so Kika it is. Anyway, I digress.)

As I’ve said, if you’re going into this movie, expecting or hoping it’s about flying. I recommend that you turn away and save yourself the money. Because this is less a film about the aviation business. It’s more of a romantic film served in an anthology format. However, that’s not my biggest gripe with this film. Oh no. Triumph in the Skies (phim hong kong 2020) is also less of a movie and more like a 100-minute long commercial or music video. This is especially true in the beginning of the film where a lot is shown about nothing, progression for first part of the movie is basically stagnant.

This may be the fault of the writers for not writing enough concrete dialogue with actual substance to push the plot forward, or maybe it’s the editors, who chopped up scenes then glued them back together without minding the cohesiveness of the story as a whole. The thing is, an-hour into the movie and you’d feel like you just spent an hour watching nothing.

Those commercials that you see on TV during the festive seasons (CNY, Hari Raya etc) have more plot that this movie.

You have a lot of beautiful shots of the grass fields in UK. The beach and the famous Brighton Pier. But then throughout the entire movie. It feels like there’s a laughingly atrocious filter over most of the scenes. The amount of post-production work and editing that was done is overwhelming, to say the least. It’s almost like someone in the post-production office decided that it would be a good idea to apply every single filter they find on MeiTu or Instagram.

The funniest example of this would be in the early part of the film when Captain Cool first meets Kika. I’m not sure what the team behind this film was going with it. But the moment they locked eyes. The scene gets painted with a psychedelic brush and Kika’s greeting of “Cofee, tea, or me?” echoes one too many times for comfort.

Another thing that irks me are the product placements. Look, I have no qualms if a film casually shows us a glance of an iPhone or just putting a MacBook in the back of the scene. But Triumph show us bottles of water with the packaging so blatantly in our faces. And even lingers on the face of a watch long enough for the audience to feel like something’s off. It makes me feel exploited. There’s even one part of it where I had to ask myself whether if I was watching a movie or an ad for Samsung smartphones.

But Triumph in the Skies is not without any good in it. The cinematography is indeed beautiful and when a scene is done right sans filter. You’d find yourself sighing in awe how gorgeous everything is. There are also a few scenes that redeem the movie slightly. My favourite will have to be that one scene where Captain Cool and Kika dressing up as Harry Potter and Hermione for photos. At least there was something in the entire movie that I found to be thoroughly enjoyable.

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