Starlets for Sale
The back of the VCD claims that this was the first
Hong Kong production that displayed pubic hair and that it was also one
of the biggest hits in 1977. My guess is that these were not disconnected
facts. It’s odd visiting these old relics of a bygone period because the
current Hong Kong film scene has seemingly transformed itself into such
a sexually prudish industry. It is extremely rare to find any nudity or
abject sleaze in a film emanating out of the Fragrant Harbour these days.
Whether this is a commercial decision or one driven by pleasing its all-seeing
Big Brother to the north is hard to say. Perhaps it is just cyclical –
until the 1970’s when censorship rules were relaxed there was absolutely
no nudity allowed on the screen. In the 1970’s there was a torrent of these
very soft porn productions to fill the void – then in the 80’s this type
of film seemed to fade out until they made a roaring comeback in the early
90’s with a visceral and often comic display of depravity of all sorts.
This lasted for a few years before its energy too was spent and by 2000
only lame productions starring the likes of Sophie Ngan carried on the
tradition. Now even Sophie seems to have vanished into thin air and we
are left with very mid brow fare appealing to families and teenagers.
In the 1970’s Lu Chi was the king of the silly
softcore film with all too many films that sent a mixed message of sexual
freedom and titillation alongside moralistic lessons about taking it all
too far. Here is an informative
write up I came across on this director.
In the 70’s there was apparently a racy scandal
that involved film actresses who sold sexual favors for money, but I haven’t
been able to find any information on it other than that it took place.
This film is based on that theme as was “Call Girls” that came out in the
same year. This seems to be a recurring theme in the Hong Kong entertainment
scene – in the early 90’s there was also a similar scandal
television actresses and even of late there are the occasional rumors about
certain actresses who have been available for fistfuls of remuneration.
Prices have gone up considerably since the 70’s though as the prices quoted
in this film are about one-tenth what is rumored that actresses go for
This one stars some of Lu Chi’s favorite actresses
– the statuesque and boldly cheekboned Ai Ti and the more demure Ling Tai
with Yum Yum Shaw in only a small and clothed role. Four professional Chinese
businessmen come to Hong Kong from abroad to visit and to have some fun
with the ladies. Their friend fixes them all up with lower level actresses
and the negotiations begin. At a nightclub one of them spots Meibo (Ai
Ti) singing and decides he has to have her but she will have nothing to
do with him or his financial offers – that is until her brother needs $15,000
for a university scholarship. One of the men is played by the loose faced
veteran Woo Fung and watching him roll around in bed with a naked woman
made me feel queasy and embarrassed. He has an itch for his favorite actress,
Xiaoling (Ling Tai), but though she is a good girl her evil stepmother
(Ouyang Shafei) forces her to give in so that she can pay her gambling
debts. Another one of the women, Menghua (Helen Poon), after being derided
by the paparazzi wants to kill herself. Like in most of Lu Chi’s films
a moral ending is tacked on and in this one all the women decide to change
their ways and take an oath as they literally walk into the sun towards
the Hong Kong skyline.
There isn’t much to recommend this one for quite
honestly – the infamous pubic hair scene goes by in the blink of an eye
(for the record the actress is Chan Wai-ying) and upon reading the VCD
blurb was rather amazed that previous films like “Intimate Confessions
of a Chinese Courtesan”, “Bamboo House of Dolls” and “Sexy Girls of Denmark”
never went down this path, but since I didn’t keep a “point” checklist
I can’t dispute it. But if any of you are fans of Ai Ti this may be worth
your time - very lovely as usual and at one point Lu Chi gives us a psychedelic
montage of her behind saran wrap and in colored wigs that was wonderfully
cheesy 70’s. She also gets naked which I don’t believe she did in many
films even though she was one of the premiere sex symbols of this era –
she generally relied on cleavage and enormous sex appeal and left the nudity
to lesser actresses.
My rating for this film: 5.5