Even with sexpots Betty Ting Pei and Lily Chen Ching, Adultery, Chinese Style opts for low-down slapstick humour instead. Stephen Tan reviews.


What does the seemingly straight-laced Lui Kei, an actor with a nice-boy image from those '60s, black-and-white Cantonese movies, do when the shackles of rigidity in the cinema is lifted from his shoulders?

Sad to say, as a scriptwriter and director, he doesn't seem to push any boundaries. For a start, in Adultery, Chinese Style (1973), Lui borrows a format that is more associated with Li Han-hsiang's erotic films - the omnibus or anthology style. But for the general audience, apart from the expectation of sex and nudity, the cast is pretty top notch - led by sex bombs Betty Ting Pei and Lily Chen Ching and a male cast that included Lo Lieh, heartthrob Alan Tang Kong Wing, Woo Fung and even two cameos by the director himself.

But audiences must have wondered if they were in the right cinema when the first two segments hardly showed any skin or sex.

In the first story, Exhausted, Lo Lieh is married to a rich but rather domineering wife, a situation which does not leave him much room to dally around. Realising his wife's aversion to hospitals, Lo fakes illness and decides to use the hospital room as his playground. Feeling that such opportunities don't come everyday, Lo decides to bed six girls, one after another. By the time he has finished with the fifth, he is already exhausted.

Hardly no more comical than a sketch in Mad magazine, the first segment is really pretty lame - the sex act being depicted by a cannon going off and a montage of erotic Japanese prints!

Lily Chen Ching (left) and Chin Feng.

And things do not liven up in the next story, Dumpling Noodles. [Let me say there is nothing here that matches Fruit Chan's Dumplings story in Three Extreme, but that's another movie entirely.] Every night, Woo Fung develops a hunger for wanton noodles. While his wife thinks he is snacking at the hawker stall, Woo is making whoopie with his neighbour. But unknown to Woo, the petite neighbour is also having it on with the movie director. While the segment has more songs than necessary and a bit of nudge-nudge, wink wink, it is still very tame and this is where the fast forward button comes in handy.

Viewers' patience will be partially rewarded (no one can walk away fully satisfied from this movie) with the last segment, Green Hat. Chin Feng is married to insatiable Lily Chen Ching but the rigours of sex leave him pretty much exhausted. Chin certainly feels that if the wages of sin is death, the hours are certainly damn good. Still he is trying to keep his hands and eyes off his wife, who seems to be trying her best to excite her man by removing her clothes at the slightest whim.

To help keep his wife occupied, Chin hires an artist to paint a portrait of his wife but the artist is no more than Chen Ching's lover in disguise. Meanwhile, Chin's daughter-in-law, Betty Ting Pei, who has a soft spot for rough sex, finds salvation in her husband's driver, Alan Tang, who is playing against type. The rest of the movie finds the respective couples setting up their private assignations and then hiding their duplicity from the others. Throw in a series of misunderstandings with comic undertones, and then aim for a big finish (that includes Bruce Lee-styled flying kicks), only problem is that the film doesn't quite know how to end.

While nothing more than a catalogue of garden variety lust and greed, the film is really let down by a weak script that moves the characters about in a sleight-of-hand manner but which hardly get them to do anything decent (or indecent for that matter).

As anyone can imagine, Adultery, Chinese Style can be quite daring, largely heartbreaking for the respective families, may be risque for the parties involved but hardly this pedestrian, especially for the viewers.

Note: Adultery, Chinese Style is out only on VCD and is not available in $ingapore.

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