ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
If only director
Lui Kei (Lu Chi) was not so uptight and moralistic. Starlets For
Sale (1977) feels as if in lieu of the nudity and sex, Lui must
put in (not sneak in) some positive message about how women should
lead their lives, never mind the fact that this was the first
time female pubic hair was shown in a Chinese film, no moot point
which helped make Starlets one of the top grossing films of 1977.
men arrive in Hongkong with one thing on their mind - women and
sex. But not just any woman off the street - they are looking
for celebrities (a riff based on the stars-for-sex scandal that
hit Hongkong in the '70s).
nude scene appears after about eight minutes - not a bad start
- when two girls climb out of a pool, dry up, and then join the
others in the gym to talk about the date with the men in the evening.
After an introductory scene at the nightclub, veteran Cantonese
star Wu Fung shows an interest in actress Ling Doi; and Koa Yuan
is "challenged" to woo the seemingly aloof Ai Ti, a singer at
doesn't end with the men going off with their prospective dates
but each of them do end up in bed with a woman; and there is much
more nudity and sex shown here than in your typical Lui Kei movie.
much-talked about pubic-hair shot occurs about 22 mintues into
the film with one of the girls, Qiqi, taking a shower. It's a
medium shot but still daring for its time. Of course, it's the
movie's money shot.
Wu Fung has been shown in sex scenes where he is under the bedsheet,
here it's an eye-opener for long-time Cantonese movie fans to
see the straight-guy actually having sex. His interest in Ling
brings him to visit her home where meets her mother (veteran Shaw
actress Ouyang Shafei in a standout role). Ouyang has a witty
spiel at the beginning of the movie (the Cantonese dialogue is
comparable to some of the top writing in a Michael Hui comedy)
and is all for her daughter to socialise with the rich man and
is even keen for Ling to spend three nights with Wu as the rich
man will help her write-off her large gambling debts. To appease
her mother Ling agrees and gets drunk (not to mention stripping
down to her undies) when she meets Wu. Being a gentleman (don't
ask, it's that kind of a movie), Wu does not take advantage of
the sleeping Ling. But when his sex partner drops by, a comedy
of mis-identities ensues.
Fung (right) gets it.
has no sleepless nights thinking of Ai Ti, he tries to impress
her with his generosity, which Ai feels is a cliched and wasted
effort. However she changes her mind when she discovers that her
brother is giving up his scholarship because they have no money.
She agrees to a deal with Kao - apparently to be his mistress/girlfriend
- for the money but (surprise, surprise) Kao is another honorable
person and knowing Ai Ti's circumstances, decides to leave the
actress Helen Poon, who had originally rejected Wu's advances
by outrightly demanding her "fees," gets into a squabble with
another actress and the fracas is splashed in the tabloids. Chastised
by her stepmother (for being poor) and insulted by her stepsister
(for being a slut), Poon decides to end it all by jumping to her
death. But first, because she is an actress, she has to look good,
even in death, and so she applies some lipstick!
is where Lui gets irritating. Some of the actresses visit Poon's
grave and as they leave, one of the girls, in a voiceover, talks
about how instead of the wanton, short-and-easy way to riches,
which is filled with tragedy, they should lead more virtuous lives!
is heavy-handed melodramatics in a soft-porn mix that seems more
shy and decorous than anything that is truly revealing, especially
where the female body is concerned. A former Cantonese movie heartthrob,
Lui is also no stranger to the erotic genre. From 1973, he has
made a name for himself as the king of erotic movies at Shaw Brothers
with films such as Sexy Playgirls (1973), Sexy Girls Of Denmark
(1973), Adultery Chinese Style (1973), Women Of Desire (1974),
Oriental Playgirls (1976) and Girls For Sale (1976). For a while
in Starlets For Sale, Lui was trying to break away from the stereotype.
Starlets For Sale is only available on VCD (IVL/Celestial) and
is banned in $ingapore.