Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 5th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1993
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Theatrically)
Language: Cantonese with burnt-in English subitles
Director: Chi Wah Leung
Cast: Tong Suen, Rena Otomo, Yu Lung Hsiao, Kei Foo Chow, Yun-Kin Chow, Chak Ming Lam, Lee Lui, Bo Lin Tsu, Pauline Yu-Huan Wang, Yue Wong
Synopsis: A rich man with a heart ailment falls in love with his new maid and wills half his estate to her prior to keeling over dead. His son and daughter in-law are not especially happy regarding this sudden turn of events.
That synopsis sounds like hundreds other softcore melodramas but this feature is quite distinctive. First, the sex scenes are all artistically and stylistically mounted and each is distinctly different from the others both visually and thematically. And, given a primary cast of seven (4m, 3f), most every coupling is a new one as much as can be managed. Episodes of violence and melodrama produce numerous twists and turns of loyalty and affiliation that defy a single viewing to fully comprehend. Second, the sex scenes are carefully constructed for cohesive coexistence within the character arcs and the central storyline as a whole.
This is a notable entry rising above the vast quagmire of the 1993 Hong Kong CAT III boom releases where commercial viability produced quantity over substance. This director was primarily a composer of movie scores, though had been assistant director on Her Vengeance. He conducts his movie with the ebb and flow, crescendo and diminuendo that you would expect of a maestro. Shaw Bros actor Wong Yu (Spiritual Boxer, Kid With a Tattoo) is here a one-time action director; but he knew what was required and how to get it from vast experience on the set.
He had a number of experienced veterans on hand including Otomo Rena (Lan Kwai Fong Swingers) as the daughter-in-law, Gam Biu (Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold) as Old Mr. Soong, Chui Bo-Lun (Woman in Lust) as the son, and Suen Tong as perhaps the most memorable character – the alpha female assassin with a strong sexual appetite. Leading lady Lui Lee was an ingénue in actuality as in casting; she only appeared in three films and is quite the innocent as the film opens, believably so.
This is one of the lost films of the HK CAT III boom that really deserves resurrection. It was available in Hong Kong on Laser Disc in letterboxed widescreen and not uncut on home video since. We must thank the Queen of England for the mandatory burned-in English subtitles on this pre-handoff title. Apparently there was, from the picture on IMDB, a UK VHS release. That would have had to been cut to ribbons during the sex scenes, and perhaps some of the violence.
This is one of the best softcore melodramatic action thrillers you might wish to find. “Star light, star bright . . .”.
Note: If you are paying close attention you will accept the assault of Lui Lee in the garage by the motorcycle hoodlums as machinated. It took me a second viewing to realize this.