Love Swindler boasts top-billing erotic stars Shirley Yu, Chen Ping, Shaw Yin-Yin and Dana but there is more of a swindler than love that meets the eye. Stephen Tan reviews.

THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

With the four-story anthology Love Swindler, director Li Han-hsiang seemed to have called in a lot of favours as the cast reads like a who's who in Shaw's erotic movies - Shirley Yu, Chen Ping, Shaw Yin-Yin and Dana.


Shirley Yu in Love Swindlers.
 

However, none of these stars appear in the first story, Deadly Injections, a period tale about travelling medicine seller Ku Feng and his sidekick Ng Ming Tsui. Veteran Ku Feng was magnificent as the diminutive brother of Wu Song in Li Han-hsiang's Tiger Killer - his midget walk taught to him by kung fu exponent Yuen Wah [lately of Kung Fu Hustle fame]. In this movie, it's almost a breeze in the park for Ku Feng. Trying to make a quick buck, Ku Feng treats a sick girl by saying she's suffering from a venereal disease and requires acupuncture. The treatment goes wrong, the girl dies and Ku Feng and his assistant are caught by the townspeople and have to suffer the humiliation of parading around town announcing their crime and carrying the corpse of the girl. In the next town, they are called to treat a rather fat girl who has a habit of eating burnt wax wicks - probably the only gross-out scene in the film. However, Ku Feng decides not to cheat the wealthy girl's family when his assistant tells him that if they are caught, he won't be able to carry the heavy corpse around town!

This segment, about a scam gone wrong, is briskly paced and it's kind of fun to watch usual "bad guy" Ku Feng get his comeuppance so viewers tend to overlook the fact that there is not so much as any peek-a-boo or enticing bare flesh to be seen.


Shaw Yin-Yin (left) and Dana.

On paper, the next story, Counterfeit, looks promising as it stars bombshells Shaw Yin-Yin and Dana (last seen as the alluring Girl With The Long Hair) as the victims of a get-rich-quick scam. Sure they get to strut their stuff - meaning lots of shots of them walking the streets in their mean hot pants - but none of the type of shots that really matter. By this time viewers' patience must be wearing thin.

Still, it takes a while before things move up a notch in the next tale, Social Disease. Here, Kang Kai, who works in a goldsmith, is enticed somewhat by an attractive customer. Through an elaborate ruse, Kang delivers a package of jewellery to a clinic run by Chiang Nan. The first nude scene in the film appears with Chiang examining a woman patient who is lying nude in bed with her legs spread apart. What really ails this woman is left to the viewer's imagination since her examination requires that she takes off all her clothes but it is doubtful any viewer will be complaining by this point. This segment has some witty double entendres regarding sex, visiting prostitutes and possibly the deflowering of virgins but if there is a point in this segment, it's that a pretty face plus some sweet talk and a seemingly sensible man will lose his senses and simply follow the pull of his loins.


Shirley Yu and Yueh Hua.
 

It's really in the final segment, Hire Purchase, where viewers get their money's worth. Shirley Yu applies for work as a sales assistant in a lighting shop run by the husband-and-wife team of Yueh Hua and Chen Ping. It doesn't take long before Yueh takes a drugged-out Yu to his apartment and the two have some of the steamiest sex on a Shaw screen. Soon, Yueh even builds a love nest of his own with Yu. When Chen discovers the affair, there is a free-for-all with the naked Yu bandied about. (In the meantime, Chen has a fling of her own - you can't really allow Shirley Yu to get all the credit here). That humiliating fiasco aside, it is only at the end that Yueh realises that Yu has fleeced him of his money.

The marquee should have read "An Erotic Movie" rather than the more flowery "Love Swindler" as this is what viewers are in the cinema for - Shirley Yu, Chen Ping, Shaw Yin-Yin and Dana.

But like a good con where the premise looks promising and where the victims (in this case, the viewers) are willing not only to suspend their belief but actually hope for a better result, overall it does look as if director Li has pulled a quick one.

Note: The Love Swindler DVD is not available in $ingapore.

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Amorous Woman Of Tang Dynasty
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