A Leg review: A love story told through search for missing limb

Gwei Lun-mei as Qian Yu-ying and Yo Yang as Zheng Zi-han in A Leg. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Gwei Lun-mei as Qian Yu-ying and Yo Yang as Zheng Zi-han in A Leg. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

Rating: M18
Length: 115 minutes
Director: Chang Yaosheng
Cast: Gwei Lun-mei, Yo Yang
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles

Release date: 11 March 2021 (Singapore)

Score: 3 out of 5 stars

A Leg is an unconventional love story starring Gwei Lun-mei as Qian Yu-ying and Yo Yang as Zheng Zi-han, who fell for each other over ballroom dancing. However, Zi-han dies unexpectedly after a leg amputation, and Yu-ying is determined to retrieve the amputated leg, which goes missing after the operation.

The storytelling of A Leg is peculiar, as it intertwines the current timeline, which follows Yu-ying’s search for the missing leg, and flashbacks of their relationship, as told by Zi-han. Although it is weird that the past is recounted by a supposedly dead person, the whole story is beautifully pieced together as the gaps in understanding are gradually filled in by the flashbacks.

The plot, on the contrary, borders on insanity as Yu-ying relentlessly tracks down Zi-han’s amputated leg. Apart from persistently pestering medical staff, including nurses, doctors and even the janitor, Yu-ying even rejects using a quality wooden prosthetic leg modelled after the missing leg, after seemingly accepting this solution proposed by the hospital director.

Despite the rollercoaster of events, it is interesting to see how Zi-han eventually meets his doom, which actually could have been avoided, and how their relationship blooms and wilts in the process. Seeded with occasional humour, A Leg is still enjoyable to watch in spite of the solemn tone.

If the movie can be summarised into one word, that would be “regrets”. Zi-han regrets his irresponsible actions, which not only destroy his future career prospects (and eventually his life), but also hurt the one closest to him. On the other hand, Yu-ying regrets checking “No” for the return of amputated parts before her husband goes through the operation, which means the amputated leg would have been “processed” and possibly unretrievable.

For those who have watched Taiwanese films, you would have known Gwei Lun-mei from Jay Chou’s movie Secret (2007). Her performance in A Leg is notable, which is no wonder why she was nominated as Best Leading Actress in the Golden Horse Awards last year — although Gwei Lun-mei lost to the 81-year-old Chen Shu-fang for her performance in Little Big Women.

A Leg also had three other nominations at Golden Horse Awards: Michael Chang (who acts as Zi-han’s photographer friend) as Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Makeup and Costume Design.

All in all, A Leg is an unusual yet entertaining love story that shows how Yu-ying makes peace with the death of her husband through the search for a missing leg.