A LIGHT NEVER GOES OUT (灯火阑珊) (2022)

: Middle-aged widow Mei Heung has gone through countless sleepless nights since the death of her husband, Bill. One day, she finds a key among the items that Bill left behind, leading her to his secret neon workshop and meet the young apprentice, Leo. She learns from Leo that Bill had an unfulfilled last wish: to recreate a demolished legendary neon sign. With Leo’s help, Mei-heung tries to uncover the story behind the sign and learns the craft of blowing neon lights in hopes of fulfilling her deceased husband’s last wish with her own hands. As clues of the legendary neon sign gradually emerge, the secrets that Mei-heung couldn’t face are about to be revealed.


The Hong Kong film industry has reached an awkward stage whereby their biggest selling stars such as Andy Lau, Jackie Chan and even Louis Koo are mostly for a lack of a better word, in their twilight years. Notably, their current crop of blockbusters are co-produced, partly financed by their more powerful counterparts in Mainland China.

So what’s left in the former British colony are more localised theme movies such as this one, A Light Never Goes Out.

Anastasia Tsang’s feature debut delves into the life of a widow, Mei-heung (Sylvia Chang). Despite her daughter’s (Cecilia Choi) pleas to migrate with her to Australia, Mei-heung insists on holding on to her late hubby’s (Simon Yam) neon sign workshop with his one and only apprentice, Leo (Henick Chou).

According to Leo, his late master’s last wish was to see one of his old iconic signs being rebuilt. Together with Mei-heung, Leo turns to crowdfund to keep the workshop afloat. But with the lack of proper skills and support, will the duo be able to realise Biu’s last wish?

In an unhurried, moving manner, Tsang slowly welcomes viewers into the fascinating world of Hong Kong’s iconic neon signs. With the government shutting down the remaining neon signs since the start of 2015 and everyone turning into cheaper alternative like LED, the remaining neon signs craftsmen are facing a hard time preserving their skill and craft.

A Light Never Goes Out works better in translating the suffering of the ailing industry to the big screen. No doubt the theme itself is a fulfilling watch especially for those who has been to HK or watches HK movies and television dramas. The numerous neon signs on the streets alone is a marvel to behold.

Unfortunately, there is a need to dramatise the events to make it into a proper movie rather than a documentary thus the narrative suffers whenever family dramatics start to play in especially with Rainbow’s interference with her mother’s decision and her distrust in Leo. 

Chang holds the fort well with her genuinely touching performance as the grieving widow and her interactions with her distanced onscreen daughter is downright depressing. Yam is delightful as the stubborn Biu though he has expectedly limited screen time.

For a movie that talks about dying heritage and culture, A Light Never Goes Out succeeds in showcasing the plight of the artisans involved in the craft. As for the rest of the narrative, there isn’t much to relish on except Chang’s mesmerising performance (she won the Best Leading Actress in the 59th Golden Horse awards).  


Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Drama
Sylvia Chang, Simon Yam, Cecilia Choi, Henick Chou, Ben Yuen, Shing Mak, Alma Kwok, Jacky Tong
Director: Anastasia Tsang
Rating: NC16 (Some Mature Content)
Year Made: 2022
Official Website: 



Languages: Cantonese
Subtitles: English/Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese
Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins