In Sinful Adulteress, sexbomb Chen Ping gives up on her loving husband when he turns out to be impotent and blind. Turning her attention to a hunky worker at her orchard, Chen finds the road to happiness is not only elusive but leads to greed and murder. Stephen Tan reviews.

THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

As an erotic Shaw movie, Ho Meng-hua’s Sinful Adulteress (1974) delivers the goods with a fair amount of nudity and sex. This is also one of those movies where latecomers to the cinema would have missed an eyeful. Almost immediately after the opening credits, viewers are treated to babelicious Chen Ping in bed with middle-aged husband Wang Hsia. After some groping and kissing and moaning, a distressed Wang flops off the bed, leaving Chen all steamed up and nowhere to go. According to the doctor, Wang is currently impotent because of injuries sustained while he was boxer in his younger days, and should recover with some rest. That he is saddled with an insatiable wife does not help matters.

Chen Ping tries to be as helpful and understanding as she can but she is not above casting a roving eye on Chen Chun, the new hunky worker at their orchard. Before long, Chen Ping is in bed with Chen Chun. Soon, Wang’s daughter, Liu Hui-ling, returns from Canada with her doctor fiance for a holiday. But tension arises between Liu and Chen Ping mainly because Chen Ping is her stepmother. However, things come to a boil when Wang decides to leave all his properties to Chen Ping. On hearing this, Chen Chun tries to cozy up even further to Chen Ping (not that he really needs much help as Chen Ping has already fallen for the worker). In the meantime, Chen Chun is also bedding daughter Liu, who perhaps of her stay overseas, is not shy of disrobing at any given moment.

Unfortunately Liu’s presence in the movie is cut short as she and her fiance are murdered by Chen Chun. Hoping to get his hands on the property (via Chen Ping) even earlier, Chen Chun starts a fire which blinds Wang Hsia instead of killing him. To help in the recovery process, Wang moves into a secluded bungalow and looked after by Chen Ping (with Chen Chun hovering in the background). An inadvertent comedy of sorts arises in a scene where the blind Wang Hsia searches for his wife, who, in the meantime, is having sex with Chen Chun.

In the film’s smartest move, Wang Hsia regains his sight and sees Chen Chun in the house. Still pretending to be blind, he removes a rifle from his room and takes a mock shot at Chen Chun in the swimming pool. The comedy and tension here is fairly palpable but this is only one sequence in a movie where logic generally goes out the window. With the police closing in, Chen Chun tries to leave with Chen Ping but their plans are spoiled by Wang Hsia.

While Sinful Adulteress is par for the course for Chen Ping (certainly one of the mainstays of Shaw's erotic films) and serves as a good introduction to the charms of Liu Hui-ling, much play is made of veteran director Ho Meng-hua with his involvement in the erotic genre.

As a "mainstream" filmmaker, Ho was behind such Shaw hits as The Monkey Goes West (1966) and Vengeance Is A Golden Blade (1969). To his credit, in Sinful Adulteress, Ho made judicious use of the camera - the nudity isn’t crass and the breasts-and-nipple shots are carefully framed. But he relied a bit too much on the melodrama to drive the film. Which is fine but it is the lapses in logic that is jarring. For instance, why would a wife want to leave her loving husband just because he can't get it on? Couldn't they think of some other ways of having fun? Or why would a blind man want to pack his rifle when he moves into another house to recuperate?

But Ho looks like a quick learner. It was the following year that Ho made his name, especially among Western audiences, when he directed Black Magic and wowed audiences with sorcery ingredients that included fresh breast milk, centipedes and human hair. He followed that up with Black Magic II (1976), Oily Maniac (1976) and the King Kong rip-off, The Mighty Peking Man (1977).

Note: This movie is only reissued on VCD, which is not available in $ingapore.

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