ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
Lust (1972) must have looked attractive on paper - three stories
about women who cheat on their husbands and who end up working
in a brothel. (Was director/screenwriter Li Han-hsiang making
a veiled remark here?)
Chi (left) and Wang Hsia.
In the first
story, The Cuckold, sex symbol Hsia Wen is married to an old pottery
shop owner. Understandably, she has the hots for blacksmith Wang
Hsia across the street. While Wang has an attractive wife Lin
Chi (who seemingly cannot be sexually satisfied), he still lusts
after Hsia. Suspicious of his wife's behaviour, the pottery shop
owner sets a trap and catches his wife and her lover in bed; bounds
them in a sack and brings them to the yamen (court). But when
the sack is opened, it is Wang and Lin Chi inside.
of Child Groom is highlighted in the second story. Demure Liu
Wu Chi, who later has a reputation as a hardcore sex actress,
is married off to a boy (Ouyang Te-yao) who might not even have
reached puberty. On the night of the wedding, her cousin, who
is also her lover, breaks into the bridal chamber, ties up the
boy and has sex with the bride.
In The Immoral
Spouse, Betty Pei Ti is the wife of pawnshop owner Li Kun but
she isn't above having a bit of dalliance with the other male
workers. Having caught the attention of Tsung Hua, the worker
suggests three wagers to prove her sincerity, one of which involves
the two of them having sex in front of the miserly Li Kun. The
big name at the time of the movie must have been the "cold" but
sexy Betty Pei Ti, who had just come off the successful Intimate
Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan.
Wu Chi (right) in Child Groom.
begins promisingly with a naked woman herded down the street on
her way to her punishment for committing adultery. Sex and nudity
may be sprinkled throughout the show but audiences hardly see
anything. The most obvious body on display is Lin Chi, who gets
a nice shot of her bare back as she makes her husband Wang give
her a massage; and another shot of her as she undresses in front
of a crafty lawyer. Again, it is the extras who appear in the
nude but they are mostly seen in long shots.
there is just enough flesh on display to appease the fans, the
strain of making the movie must have shown on director Li, who
had just returned from Taiwan. In the '50s and '60s, Li had a
successful career at Shaw Brothers. But he decided to leave Hongkong
and start his own film company in Taiwan. The project failed and
Li then returned, hat in hand so to speak, to Shaws.
is competently shot and there is a nice Li Han-hsiang literary
flourish in a scene where veteran actress Wang Lai teaches the
Child Groom the different ways of expressing the word "penis"
and generally what to do on the wedding night (who should be on
top; and who below). But overall, the stories are let down by
their weak resolutions and more and more, Legends Of Lust looks
like a movie of missed chances.
Hsia Wen under wraps.
one quickly thinks of Demi Moore in Ghost when one mentions "potter's
wheel" in a movie. Li has used metaphorical shots before to depict
the goings-on in his films (like erotic figures to depict a couple
having sex) but he totally missed out here. The Cuckold segment
is set in a pottery factory; there is unbridled passion; and someone
is at the potter's wheel; but it's none of the leads.
In The Immoral
Spouse, Li must have thought a gag involving a man pretending
to have it on with a rubber doll must be comical. It isn't. Or
that a scene involving Hsia Wen and Wang Hsia having sex on one
side of the bed and, on the other, there's the old pottery shop
owner sleeping away, to be hysterical. Instead, it looks tired
wonders why the virile Wang Hsia isn't satisfied with his wife
or why the wife, who has been cheated too in this case, would
want to save her wretched husband? And one can only imagine how
the women or why they all ended up working in the brothel. Unlike
some of the other erotic Shaw films, Legends Of Lust, despite
its title, turns out relatively tame. One seems to be dredging
the proverbial bottom of the barrel to put this movie on.
Note: The Legends Of Lust DVD is not available in $ingapore.
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