One of the most underrated and underappreciated actresses working in Hong Kong today, the ever-reliable Michelle Wai Sze-nga, now 35, deserves any break she can get that would finally propel her to movie stardom. Lost and Found in Tokyo, despite Wai featuring in almost every scene, is not it. This grating and astonishingly inane piece of storytelling isn’t going to do anyone’s career any good. Written and directed by Charlie Choi Kit-ling, who made her directorial debut with the Patrick Kong-produced PG Love in 2016, the film offers a cartoonish account of a heartbroken Hong Kong woman’s travel experiences in Tokyo.
While the scenario is a promising one that offers the possibility of a scenic travelogue or a whimsical tale of soul-searching, Choi passes up those opportunities in favour of one of the most atrociously scripted comedies in recent memory.
Wai plays Tao Sa-sa, a 29-year-old illustrator and vlogger who has an unhealthy obsession with Korean actor Song Joong-ki – this turns out to be one of the film’s many throwaway “gags”, as it is never brought up again after the opening scene. After her boyfriend of 13 years, Paul (Lawrence Chou Chun-wai), suddenly breaks up with her, Sa-sa takes up the offer of a fully paid-for trip to Tokyo to record her recovery process.
Sa-sa arrives at an old-style homestay, and is welcomed by its owner (Akira Sakamoto) and three long-term residents, who initially appear as ghosts – yet another utterly ineffective attempt at comedy. Sa-sa’s routine includes studying Japanese and working at a food stall by day, and dancing, drinking, and sleepwalking around the neighbourhood by night.
The homestay’s residents – Malaysian Cao Yon-tan (Kyle Li Yam-san), a socially awkward inventor who prefers having relationships with robots to actual women; Taiwanese Maton (Aaron Chow Chi-kwan), a perpetually failed applicant to the University of Tokyo; and Bruce Lee fan Leung Shao-long (Ding Xiaolong), who can do little more than hit his own head with a nunchaku – serve more as sight gags than characters.
The fairy-tale entrance of Sa-sa’s love interest, played by Danson Tang Yu-zhe, is saccharine and unrealistic, but fits the frivolous tone set by the rest of Lost and Found in Tokyo.
This is a chaotic mess of a film, its dialogue unrelentingly awful and its humour non-existent. As such it is an early candidate for the worst Hong Kong film of 2020.