When fools fall in love… that's when voluptuous Ai Ti gets her way, and she doesn't even need to shed any clothes in the erotic comedy, 36th Chamber Of Girl-Chasing. Stephen Tan reviews.

THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

When he was a young actor starring opposite Connie Chan Po Chu in '60s black-and-white Cantonese movies, Liu Kei (Lu Chi) was always considered a screen heartthrob. In the '70s and into the '80s, as a Shaw filmmaker, with movies such as Oriental Playgirls, Adultery Chinese Style, Sexy Girls Of Denmark and Starlets For Sale, Lui Kei was also known as the King Of Porn. But the kind of "porn" Liu was making was really very, very soft porn.

Take 36 Secrets Of Courtship (1982) for example. A title such as 36 Secrets certainly raises one's expectations - it could have been a delightful parody of Lui Chia-Liang's 36 Chambers Of Shaolin and the film's opening certainly gives that impression. Various young men attend The Macho Man Training Centre to learn the art of seducing women. Moving from class to class (or chamber to chamber), they learn the importance of appearing generous when dating women; and the deft use of fingers, waist and tongue (the latter as in the need to be a smooth talker).


Waist power...

The headmaster of the school dies suddenly leaving behind his attractive wife, Ai Ti; and three men teachers vie to be the next head. A quest is set and the person who successfully woos his "target" will be the headmaster. Frankie Wei must court Ling Tai, a tycoon's daughter said to be staying in a haunted mansion. Veteran actor Wu Fung must court model Pi Ji Hua (who already has a boyfriend) and Law Ho Kai has to court Liza Wong, who is already married.


 

The first nude scene appears in a dream sequence where Wei dreams he's being chased by a naked, Afro-haired female ghost. Hopping around like a kyongsi, her bouncy flesh is a welcome sight that leads viewers to expect more. Wei is next shown overpowered by the ghost who is lying on top of him with her tongue in his mouth. He wakes up from his dream in fright and runs out of the house. While it does not explain the dream, it later transpires that the "hauntings" are mere tricks played by Ling, who is a computer expert, and who is trying to find a brave man for a husband.

Wu concocts an elaborate plot to get Pi into an apartment by offering her actor boyfriend a chance to act in an international production. The second nude scene in the film occurs when a topless Pi is shown brushing her hair as she prepares for a birthday dinner - talk about being in a birthday suit! In a series of encounters that is farcically tedious, the drunken Wu finally thinks he has scored, only to find out the next morning that he bedded Pi's cousin instead and even proposed marriage.


 

Inexplicably, no mention is made of Law's pursuit of Liza Wong and next, viewers see the three trying to court Ai Ti, who only wants a platonic relationship with them and later insists that the three take a platonic love test. After failing the test, but to prove their sincerity, the three sign over their share of the school to Ai Ti, only to realise that she had swindled them. As Law ruefully comments at the end: "How do people get rich? It's 'cause they simply love money and go to all lengths to get rich."

Director Lui must have come across lecherous characters in the movies he had acted in and what would he do with them if he really had the power to change things? Judging from the movies he made, not very much. Liu's idea of an erotic film is to throw in a bit more nudity (but not too much) and a bit of sex. Sure the ghost sequence is pleasing and so is Pi at the dressing table. But what about the attractive Ai Ti? As a comedy, the mix of slapstick and verbal chaos (or dexterity) is nowhere inspired and, if you've watched even a couple of these films, the viewer is already ahead of the game.


Where's that Drunken Fist?
 

This movie could have been a contender - the title itself is already promising but the problem is that Liu just didn't go out far enough. He settled for the ludicrous (what's the big deal about chasing a model with a boyfriend?), the ridiculous (a platonic love test that seemed to have wandered in from a Michael Hui movie) and the tedious - the jokes aren't funny but thankfully there are no toilet jokes though, in the spirit of things, an intoxicated Wu doing the Drunken Fist would not have been out of place and might even garner a couple of laughs.

Note: The 36 Secrets Of Courtship DVD is not available in $ingapore.

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Click here for other Asian Values DVD Reviews:


Biyaheng Langit
Sexy Girls Of Denmark
Laman
Golden Lotus: Love And Desire
Tuhog (Larger Than Life)
Dreams Of Eroticism
Legends Of Lust
Amorous Woman Of Tang Dynasty
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Kiss Of Death
Crazy Sex
Forbidden Tales Of Two Cities
The Call Girls





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