Free love and free sex in Copenhagen? Sexy Girls Of Denmark sure promises more than it delivers; and with Baby Queen Li Ching in tow, who'd expect her to give a tongue-licking jolly good time. Stephen Tan reviews.

THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

A Shaw erotic film starring Li Ching? That should either pique your interest or send you scuttling away. Yes, the Asian movie queen is involved in a sex scene. But whether she is in the nude is left to the viewer's imagination - her vital parts are concealed under the blanket. But then, no one would have expected her to show so much tongue!

Filmmaker and writer Lui Kei (the film lists him as Lu Chi) is better known to fans of '60s Cantonese movies (he starred opposite Connie Chan Poh Choo) and is the subject of a spoof by actor Tony Leung Kar-Fai in The Legendary La Rose Noire (1992). Here, he is probably drawn by the success of such Triple-X fare as the 1970 Swedish Fly Girls (which sported Sandy Denny on the soundtrack) and Sexy Girls Of Denmark looks like an attempt to cash in on the permissiveness in Scandinavian countries (known for free sex).


Baby Queen Li Ching (left).
 

Sexy Girls has been touted as one of the Shaw movies that was shot on location - and there are lots of touristic shots - but that is certainly not the film's main draw. For genre fans, there is enough sex and skin in Sexy Girls to warrant the erotic moniker - consider it Danish desserts then - though the film is seriously let down by its weak dialogue and is even dull compared to more exuberant compatriots such as The Kiss Of Death.

Fung Kwok-Chuen (Tsung Hua) is the scion of a rich family sent to Copenhagen to close a business deal. He has to choose between three competing companies and to vie for his attention; two of the companies decide to seduce the young man from Hongkong with the womanly charms of blonde Danish beauties. After all, isn't that what all Asian men on business trips really want?

Brite Tove is one of the girls. Tove must have decided to try her luck in Asia as she also appeared in Shaw's Bamboo House Of Dolls (1973) and the two films helped to create some sort of celebrity status for her. In this film she is a porn actress who gives the Asian visitor a good time. It isn't long before the two are in bed together but before that, viewers have to watch Tsung do a slow dance with Tove to an instrumental version of Bread's Make It With You (midway through Tove comments: "Have you got a torch in your pocket?" - yes, we can hear the groan) and sit through an extended toilet joke (this is where the fast forward button comes in handy). Any further romance between the two is dashed when Tove refuses to give up her work for Tsung and the young man turns his attention to Ms Fang (Li Ching), an Asian based in Copenhagen.

Brite Tove (left) and Tsung Hua.

Probably considered "proper" actors and actresses, the sex act between Tsung Hua and Li Ching is substituted - there is really no other word for it - by a fight scene between the two in period costumes (Shaws really needed to reuse their own backlots) with Tsung piercing Li, with his spear, and leaving the latter in a state of ecstasy, to be followed by some of the most cliched images of sex-on-screen ever (rolling waves and blooming flowers - earlier on, it was a shot of cannons with explosions going off in the background). While the scene isn't clumsily shot, it is likely to draw huge laughs and guffaws today.

The problem with Sexy Girls Of Denmark is that Lui can't decide whether to make a straight melodrama or a comedy. The resulting movie often veers into comedic territory (the Fung family is comedic per se - the father, who runs a film company, is playfully subservient to his wife; the fact that he may be a womaniser is glossed over or that he might have a cache of porn movies in his study isn't fully exploited).


 

Or take a look at Fung's arrival in Denmark. Dressed in traditional garb with a scarf, Tsung looks decidedly out of place in modern Denmark. Instead of underlining the notion of a stranger-in-a-strange-land, Tsung looks ridiculous as which young man would travel half-way round the world dressed like that?

And while Tsung may not have warmed up to the allure of the Swedish girls; he tries (at first) to escape their attention and clutches by the sort of wiles that are more suited to a cartoon (like hiding behind a table) and even does the dishonourable thing by fainting after hugging one of the girls who has just exposed her pendulous breasts to him! It would have simplified matters if he had just said "No" but of course, that would have jettisoned the film to a different direction.

The comedy of manners continues in another scene where Karen Yip Ling Chi (who plays Tsung's sister) visits a public bath in Copenhagen. Narratively, the scene goes nowhere other than to showcase a bevy of naked girls. It must be mentioned that Yip had a towel wrapped around her.

But for all the philandering Tsung does, Sexy Girls Of Denmark is downright old-fashioned at heart. It does not celebrate the independence of Brite Tove (she is the one who makes the decisions) and while it doesn't go so far as to paint everything that is western as decadent (and bad), it does put the shackles on free love by having the independent Li Ching following Tsung back to Hongkong and, as viewers can surmise, an existence as a "second-class" female in a traditional Asian society. She should be asking the very question that Tove raised: "You can't offer anything better than I have. I like it here. Why should I go to Hong Kong? I want to come and go as it pleases me, including going to bed if I want to." For that, Tove got slapped in the face.

Note: The Sexy Girls Of Denmark DVD is not available in $ingapore.

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