Call Girl 88

I went into this film sadly unprepared – expecting and hoping for a Maggie Cheung film that was as light and refreshing as a lemon sorbet. What a mistake that was. This film turned out to be as much fun as a pair of cement shoes in the middle of the ocean. By the end of the film, the landscape is littered with suicides, broken hearts, child molestation, rape, lost lives and one detached penis. Actually the detached penis was one of the more enjoyable moments of the film.

The story follows the lives of five women who are in the oldest profession (no not politics) and though it begins on a somewhat light note it soon devolves into a very depressing look at their life style. There are no happy endings at the end of this rainbow. As one old prostitute tries to warn one of the girls “Every whore has a story. What’s yours? Once a whore always a whore”.

Maggie Cheung plays a popular TV soap actress who from time to time flies out of the country to earn some extra money with strangers. In this case she travels to Thailand (sort of like bringing coals to Newcastle as they say) for an encounter with a rich businessman who likes to wear masks of celebrities while doing the deed. In this case he later blames Stallone for his baseball like performance (3 strokes and your out!) On her way back to HK, she meets and falls in love with a University student.

Another one of the women is Mei-feng (Bo Bo Fung) who is turning tricks like a fire sale in a sweaty little massage parlor in order to make money for her husband’s (Stanley Fung) kidney transplant. So she takes their young boy to school and then heads to her place of business where she goes from happy homemaker to not so happy hooker.
The third sad story to unfold is about a 16-year-old girl who is sexually abused by her stepfather and runs away from home. Her boyfriend convinces her that there is a lot more money to be made serving fast men than fast food at McDonalds.
The next two girls are roommates who work at a Hostess nightclub. Elsie Chan is a bubbly sort from the Mainland who becomes attached to a client who won’t sleep with a woman because an “English bird laughed at me in a state of undress and called me Little Man”. She does her best to soothe his worries.
Her roommate – Shan Shan (Carrie Ng) – has gotten into the business because her mother is dying in the hospital and she needs money to help her. Unhappy with her life, she is resorting to pills to get her through the night.
As you can guess – there are not a lot of laughs on the horizon. None of these stories connect with one another as the director simply goes back and forth between the characters, but all the stories lead down dead end streets.

The acting is fine, but I can’t imagine why anyone would have come up with this dismal idea in the first place. I can picture the sales angle – “like five Pretty Women – except they all end up either dead, abused or broken hearted instead of in the arms of Richard Gere – it should be a smash hit!”