Queen of Underworld

If you thought Sandra Ng’s turn as a career prostitute in “Golden Chicken” was unique, think again. Back in 1991 there was a film that also followed the life of a woman from being a young girl first getting into the hooking business through her middle aged years as a Mamasan. After watching this film I can’t believe Amy Yip didn’t receive the Best Actress Award for 1991 – instead they gave it to another Yip, Cecilia, who won it for the film “A Thing Called Love”. I’ve never seen “A Thing Called Love” (has anyone?) and I am sure Cecilia was fine but did she have to portray a woman going through tough times and still surviving over a twenty year period? Amy digs so deeply into this role that at one point she actually puts on glasses to make herself look older. Now that is dedication to the craft that should have been recognized.
Admittedly, she never really looks a day older during the film, a wrinkle never adorns her pooky face, a gray hair never takes nest and her legendary chest never seems to meet up with gravity, but she wears those glasses with a spunky gleam in her eyes that shouts out – by God this will show them that I am an actress. Not only does she begin wearing glasses as she gets older – worse – she sleeps with Shing Fui-on because he seemingly is the only man who wants her. Again this kind of dedication should be recognized. Of course, in the same year, she was to have a truly classic scene with Shing in “Blue Jean Monster”. In fact 1991 must have been an exhausting and bruising year for the Yipster as she also appeared in “Sex and Zen”, “Robotrix” and “The Great Pretenders” among a number of other films. This was the apex of her career as her films from 1992 to her retirement in 1994 were an undistinguished lot. In “Queen of Underworld” we get nearly 100% Amy as opposed to her often fleeting but memorable cameos in so many of her films. In all semi-seriousness she is actually fairly decent here and eminently watchable.
As a young woman with pigtails, Amy sells chicken buns to customers in a restaurant, but they have a preference for her bigger buns that she is not yet willing to sell. She calls these lascivious men “creepers” while they tag her with the not very clever but rather accurate nickname, “Big Tits”. One day she meets up with a small time pimp who promises to take her away from this chicken bun life style and soon she is happily making use of her sizable assets and meeting many fine men for short periods of time. Life is a bit squalid as she has to share her pimp’s room with him and his assorted followers, but when you are in love what’s the matter with a small crowd of onlookers. When she gets a little bun in her oven though, her pimp lover sees his future return on asset ratio diminishing and decides that a punch in her stomach will take care of that financial problem. Instead though Amy turns to a corrupt cop, Blackie Ko, who after making sure that she measures up beats up the pimp and takes her and soon her little girl in. This is just the first step though as she slowly becomes . . . the Queen of the Underworld!
Soon she is managing a number of girls at a hostess bar and imparting her wisdom to them. She takes a rookie under her wing and after a little training from the Yipster, Pauline Chan is ready to go out on her own into the scary world of Cat. III films and is soon a star. Nothing goes easy though as Blackie still has a need to fool around and on one occasion when Amy’s little girl interrupts his randy activities he punts her for a field goal and though the only damage that is apparent is that when she grows up to be Gigi Lai she has an inflated lower lip that you could use as a life preserver, the Yipster doesn’t take kindly to having her daughter treated as a football and takes a souvenir from Blackie that he dearly misses.
No problem for Amy though  - she just finds another protector in Paul Chun Pui and soon develops a network of men from a gweilo policeman to the big boss (with a cameo from Ray Lui) who keep her safe. As the years roll by though Gigi grows up to resent her mom and her protectors grow old and powerless and soon she is in trouble with nowhere to turn to except a couple old friends that she taught the tricks of the trade to years before. The film is mildly trashy as you might expect, but goes as much for the melodrama as it does for any exploitation – which comes primarily in the form of Pauline Chan. Even Amy keeps her cleavage displays to a disappointing minimum here as if she is in fear of catching a chest cold – still this is one of Amy Yip’s few films that used her generally in a non-exploitive manner – whether that’s a good or bad thing I won’t judge – but I enjoyed watching her stretch her thespian talents for a change.

My rating for this film: 6.0