Moods Of Love (1976) continues in the vein of the filmmaker's anthology
format, in this instance, it's a two-hander.
ASIAN VALUES VCD REVIEW
story, set during the Sung Dynasty, has a wily magistrate (veteran
actor Chiang Nan) setting out to prove that living buddha/monk
Yueh Hua is no different from other worldly men and can succumb
to temptations of the flesh.
to spend his time meditating, monk Yueh Hua appears aloof to magistrate
Chiang Nan. In order to bait the monk, Chiang hires prostitute
Shirley Yu, who pretends to fall ill at the temple. Complaining
of bodily pains, which can only be stopped when a naked male body
is pressed against hers [don't ask why], Yu begs the monk for
help. Being a kindly soul, the monk agrees and the result is an
exchange of bodhi fluid between the monk and the prostitute. The
next day finds the monk dead in a state of satori. That very day,
a voiceover explains, the magistrate's wife gave birth to a girl
who later became a prostitute.
cycle continues in the second story, which is set during the Republican
times. To look after her ailing husband, Chen Ping has no choice
but to turn to brothel owner Wang Lai for help. After her husband
dies, and with mounting debts, Chen agrees to work in Wang's brothel,
leaving her daughter, Shaw Yin-yin, to study in a boarding school.
After a while, Chen contracts a sexually-transmitted disease and
is buried alive after Wang blotches a homemade attempt to cure
Chen. Meanwhile, Shaw is raped by a teacher but because of her
mother's debts, she has to work for Wang. Out on her own when
she's no longer popular at Wang's brothel, Shaw meets Wang on
the street one day and stabs the old woman to death.
the mid to late '70s, filmmaker Li Han-Hsiang, noted for his classical
period movies, churned out a number of soft-porn erotica for the
House of Shaw.
In an interview
with Hong Kong Cinemagic (www.hkcinemagic.com), actress Shaw Yin-Yin
comments on the filmmaker: "[Li] made low budget sex films to
make money for Mr Run Run Shaw. Director Li's dream project was
to make Ching Dynasty films. Mr Shaw told him, if he can find
a way to him make lots and lots of money, he can do his Ching
Dynasty films. So that's why at that time, they were made, due
to the profit these sexy films made. The Ching films were highly
The key attraction
to Li's erotic movies are the actresses who aren't afraid to strip
and certainly Shirley Yu, Chen Ping and Shaw Yin-yin are big draws
in Moods Of Love. And the prostitution profession is ideal since
any sex and nudity will not be gratuitous. (Regulars such as Hu
Chin and Tanny Tien Ni help too, though they do not appear in
actor-turned-director Lui Kei who also made a number of soft-porn
films for Shaw Brothers, there is a lot more thought into the
script, set design and camerawork in Li's movies. As in Crazy
Sex (1976), there is a memorable tracking shot of several brothel
cubicles showing the various prostitutes at work (naturally with
their clothes off).
off all the sex and nudity, Moods Of Love, especially the second
segment, is highly melodramatic and recalls the films of Cantonese
social critic actor Ng Chor Fan. While prostitutes are nothing
more than chattels to be used and exploited, the film also highlights
the ignorance surrounding sexually-transmitted diseases. The homemade
cure Chen Ping had to endure can only be called savage and primitive
- brothel owner uses a piece of heated porcelain to cut off the
infected vagina (which takes place offscreen with only splashing
blood for effect) and then sealing the wound with heated charcoal.
But it is
Moods Of Love's first segment that is resonant today, it might
even have influenced and given rise to that 1992 Amy Yip cult
classic, Sex And Zen. While the religious always advocated celibacy,
Li gave this a twist by saying that sex, even involving the religious,
can be a sartorial experience. Of course, with the eye-pleasing
Shirley Yu as a partner, who is practically nude for at least
half her scenes, the results can be heavenly.
Moods Of Love DVD (IVL/Celestial) is banned in $ingapore.