Monday, February 09, 2009

Angel or Whore

No, I am not debating the future direction of my life, but instead here is another episode in the exciting on going adventures of “Beneath the Living Room Table” where I drag out old dusty tapes and finally watch them. In this instance perhaps I should have let sleeping tapes lie.

Angel or Whore

Director: Lai Jun-git
Year: 1990
Running Time: 93 minutes

A provocative title is practically all this dreary fantasy film has going for it – other than a physical exercise that may be of some interest to the women readership out there. Its lack of energy is palpable as it drags itself to the anti-climatic finish line as if in slow motion. According to the HKMDB this was the director’s solo effort and we can at least be thankful for that. In ancient times, a certifiably loony and evil Hsia Hau Chian (played by Pai Ying for a pay check) has aspirations to conquer the world. Now we all have our own reasons for wanting to conquer the world – mine is to be spoon fed Haagan Daz Chocolate Almond ice cream on a daily basis by Maggie Cheung and Hsu Chi – but Hsia has other reasons – he was once a dragon when they ruled the earth and he wants to bring back the good old days.

He doesn’t seem to be making a lot of progress towards this goal as he lives in a cave and has two minions beneath him – and fortunately for all of us his evil machinations are thwarted by a character called 18 Fairies (the winsome Emily Chu gets this small painful role) who is able to disassemble into eighteen different fairies – sadly none of them can fight a lick and nearly all die before they finally pull Hsia into the well of death where he has to go directly to Hell without passing Go. The big concept in Hell is that you are given a pill to forget your past life so that you can be reincarnated afresh – but the clever Hsia spits it out and so comes back to earth still wanting the whole enchilada. Let’s hope they have better quality control when George Bush and Dick Cheney have their turn.

Hsia returns to earth a few hundred years later (still in ancient times) with some changes – his hair has turned gray (damn Hell for that) but he has much better digs as he appears to have moved up considerably in cave dwelling status and he now has some hotties as minions – now he is getting the point of ruling the world – but he still has the same evil laugh. Out in the real world events are taking place as well. Stonehead (Matthew Wong – who has a certain Jaycee Chan look about him – what was Jackie up to in the early 70’s I wonder?) has left his small town to find his way – this after bashing the local casino owner and pharmacist not to speak of an old lady who wanted to kill him – and wanders into a more cosmopolitan town – cosmopolitan because it has a brothel. He accidentally comes upon some comely maidens practicing a work exercise – holding a melon between their knees and when they have the strength to break it they are ready for business. When he hears that in two nights they are going to “break one in” he assumes they mean melons and shows up to help – of course they mean virgins – in this case the lovely Yuk (Sheren Tang who has been a mainstay of TVB for years but recently appeared as Dragon’s mom in Dragon Tiger Gate).

Yes, her big day has arrived – what she has been trained for all her life – putting in the long hours of study needed for that profession - but before entering her enthralling life of whoredom she goes to a fortune teller to see what destiny holds for her. You can imagine her surprise when she discovers that she isn’t even human but a fairy who has to go kill Hsia. Ouch. One minute a burgeoning career, the next a long road trip with a really irritating companion. Because of a red pimple on Stonehead’s back, he is destined to come with her and help fight evil. The drawback for him is that she has to remain a virgin. So why am I coming along I would guess he is asking himself? And the viewer is sort of asking themselves the same question – why did I stick with this film until the bitter end. To that I have no answer.

My rating for this film: 2.0

As a housekeeping note and to sound more productive than I am – I have finally gotten around to inserting some screen captures in some film reviews that I wrote while traveling. I can’t imagine why any one would care, but here they are:

From HK:

Starlets for Sale
New Kids in Town (bad video quality)
Brave Young Girls (bad video quality)
Beauty Evil Rose (really bad video quality)
Angel or Whore (bad video quality)

From Bollywood:

The Train