ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
happen if a director gave the Taiwanese tearjerkers a twist of
reality, Shaw Brothers style?
That is what
John Lo Mar's The Girlie Bar (1976) is about. If you think the
"bar" in the title is a drinking joint where people spill their
guts and life stories, you've got another thing coming. "The Girlie
Bar" is none other than a brothel though some PR person probably
thought "The Girlie Bar" might attract more crowds than just a
In a flashback
at the beginning, viewers are given the hard-luck story about
Ye Feng (who excels in comedies but doing a straight role here),
who does odd jobs and has a wife who died early leaving him with
three daughters. The
eldest, Helen Ko, marries a sailor who is lost at sea, leaving
her with a young son. The second daughter, Chen Ping, is dumped
by a rich man and is now nursing a baby.
The youngest daughter is the cold and aloof Lin Chen-chi. Heavily
in debt, Ye has no choice but to force his daughters into prostitution,
him being the proprietor and operator of the joint.
the loansharks, Ye has to contend with bribing the local police
and handle difficult customers. Trouble begins when Lin Chen-chi
who not only refuses to entertain one of her customers but slaps
the gangster as well. To placate the client, Ye whips Lin in front
of the man as a form of punishment for insulting the client.
Liu and Chen Ping.
is friendly with the thuggish Tony Liu Jun Guk but keeps her feelings
of the relationship to herself. However, on a outing to the beach,
she teases Liu by showing him her breasts and, in the film's eye-popping
moment, rolls and rolls and rolls along the beach. When that seems
to steam up Liu (who is also one of the film's action choreographer),
Chen Ping decides to run off, leaving Liu on the vengeance trail.
Ko fancies Dean Shek Tien (before he became "big" in Jackie Chan
movies and then forming Cinema City) and has no qualms about going
to bed with him. Given the lack of space in the former British
colony, before mommy hits the sack, she has her son stay in the
cupboard. For his efforts, he gets two biscuits. Before things
get carried away, Dean's wife appears and tells Ko to leave the
the quiet Lin. After meeting a rich student (who serenades to
her in a pre-MTV sequence, which is hilarious for today's audiences),
Lin decides to go off with him. But once Ye finds out Lin's plans,
he goes and explains his background to the boy. Overhearing the
conversation, Lin returns to The Girlie Bar and gets drunk with
bouncer Jason Pai Piao, who has a crush on Chen Ping, gets killed
fending off Liu, who then returns to torch up the joint.
No one who
ventured into the cinema in the '70s watching this movie would
have mistaken this as a tearjerker or, as the DVD box says, "an
allegorical tale that follows the plight of the Chinese woman
and the way they are treated by males in Chinese society." With
Chen Ping as one of the delights in a brothel, it is even doubtful
anyone will wonder what sort of a father would force his daughter
to sell herself.
the fiasco on the beach (and viewers do get an eyeful), and a
scene in the outbacks where she has to strip, Chen Ping doesn't
get to do much disrobing. On the other hand, it is Helen Ko who
gets the nude scenes. And if anyone wonders, no, Lin does not
appear in the nude at all. But viewers do get their money's worth
in the final fiery scene where the girls, many of whom are either
topless or in the nude, run like headless chickens looking for
The Girlie Bar DVD (IVL/Celestial) is banned in $ingapore.