Girls without Tomorrow

Reviewed by YTSL

Maybe it was because I didn't have high expectations for this unheralded movie (which still made more money at the box offices in Hong Kong in 1992 than "Batman Returns", "Patriot Games" and "Sister Act" as well as "Centre-Stage", "Gigolo and Whore II" and "The Story of Ricky" (http://www.movieworld.com.hk/zine/Office/hkyear1992a-en.shtml ).  As it was, post-viewing it, I wonder why it is not better known as well as deservedly acclaimed.  After a bit of thinking though, I came out with not just one but three reasons for this being so: Two of which stem from the film's having the title it has; while the third is a result of the type of work engaged in by the movie's heroines.

GIRLS WITHOUT TOMORROW is hardly the most PC or upbeat of titles for a movie.  It thus is somewhat surprising as well as confusing to learn that there is another Hong Kong effort that shares this title with this 1992 effort.  Like that 1988 production, which is better known as "Call Girls '88" (and is reviewed elsewhere on this web site), the five protagonists in this film are all involved or associated in some way or other with the prostitution trade.  Though each of them is not without her faults, like the rest of us humans, they all exhibit traits that I dare anyone to say that she or he does not at all possess along with fellow feeling that we hope that we can and do have.

Carina Lau
N.B. Though one would not think it from its publicity shots/poster/video-tape cover, I cannot emphasize enough that this is a film that pulls no punches and portrays the working women it chose to focus on largely without glamour yet with no small modicum of respect.  Perhaps the key to its successfully doing so lies in the main characters being shown to also have other roles in life (e.g., actual mother and surrogate mother as well as "mamasan", honorary as well as biological daughter, friend, protector, benefactor, supporter) besides that of club hostess, call girl or whatever.
May Lo Law
This film benefits to no end from having a cast of capable actresses and actors:  Some of whom -- notably Carina Lau, Petrina Fung Bo-Bo and Vivian Chow -- definitely exude class and star quality; others of whom -- including the man who plays the pimp-turned-boyfriend of the character inhabited by May Lo/Law (best known as Mrs. Jacky Cheung) -- appear to be unknowns (at least to this Hong Kong movie viewing as well as reviewing neophyte) whose work may actually be more believable because they are not recognizable stars.  This production's scriptwriter, director, cinematographer and editor also deserve praise: Their efforts undoubtedly contributed to making this complex as well as gritty melodrama (albeit with bits of comedy and painful sex thrown in;  but rather than seem incongruous, as with "Peking Opera Blues", they have the effect of making the film's dramatic sections even more emotionally-wrenching than they would have already been) a very tight and moving picture.
Vivian Chow
Perhaps people who read this review and then go watch this movie might end up thinking that I vastly overhyped it.  Still, I must admit to finding it hard to disguise the fact that, IMHO, this is an altogether excellent production.  My suspicion that others might share my feelings about this film were confirmed after seeing two other people who vastly differ in Hong Kong movie viewing experience and age as well as are of different nationality and gender -- I've shown it to get so "into" it that I caught them doing such as wiping away tears after viewing its more heart-wrenching moments as well as beaming with satisfaction over certain heart-warming scenes.  So...if you appreciate good acting, (melo)dramatic stories and three-dimensional female characters, this just might be the film for you...
Carina Lau and Petrina Fung

My rating for this film:  9.5.


Pauline Chan


Just as a quick note, I put this film on only to get a few quick frames for YTSL's review above and got completely sucked into this melodramatic film. It has many wonderful moments of high drama, light comedy, sadness and painful torment that will just grab you from the first scene to the final frame. Some of it is uplifting; some of it is tawdry and depressing - but all of it is quite emotionally powerful.

Though the film shifts back and forth between the stories of the five main female characters - all involved somehow in the skin trade - it manages to make all of them very human and very real - and all of their stories will resonate with the viewer. All of the performances are heartfelt and terrific. Even if you think that this may not be your type of film, I'd recommend taking ninety-minutes and entering into this strange little world of hostess bars, brothels, pimps, whores, broken lives and redemption.

My rating for this film: 8.5