The Umbrella Story (1995)

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Clifton Ko Chi-sum spins this affable melodrama about the trials and tribulations of a family in the umbrella business over the span of 100 years. The film opens in the 1870s when Leung So Kee (Chow Chi-fai) sees a foreign-produced umbrella for the first time and decides to sell them instead of cooking wear. Upon setting up shop, he offers his clients a lifetime guarantee on his wares. Though initially Leung's endeavor seems like a smashing success, he soon realizes that the umbrella business is an unpredictable one, dependant largely on the vagaries of the weather systems. Meanwhile, the Leung and his wife are busy trying to find good wives for their two sons. After some initial trouble, Tin-chi marries the daughter of a fireworks maker. When the Japanese roll through Hong Kong in the late 1930s, business grinds to a halt for a spell. When the end of the war arrives, Leung's young son returns home with a brand-new Mandarin-speaking bride from Shanghai. Later, the family business is most threatened by a flood of cheap Japanese productions during the 1960s. The film features some Forrest Gump-style digital manipulation of archival footage.