Bitter rivalry drives the squeaky-clean Ching Li to underhanded means like spying to wipe out the competition in the pantyhose trade. Or as they say, it's just another day in the dog-eat-dog world of doing Chinese business. Stephen Tan reviews.


The material might be regarded as "adult" but Kuei Chih Hung's Intrigue In Nylons (1972) is anything but, the saucy film poster notwithstanding.

Saucy might be the operative word here, just as those British Carry On films can be regarded as "adult" movies. If the leading actress had been someone else, Kuei might have been able to pull it off but with squeaky-clean Ching Li, there isn't a hope in the world that this movie would fall squarely into the erotic genre.

Ching Li's father is the owner of the Rose brand pantyhose. Back from Europe after completing her studies, Ching Li comes up with some snazzy advertisements that propel her company to the top of the pantyhose trade. The move practically wipes out all the other pantyhose companies except the Princess brand, which is owned by Tien Ching's father. To combat the Rose ads, Tien Ching is summoned back from Taiwan (where he teaches advertising) and his ads prove effective. To get an insight into the competition, Ching Li disguises herself and gets employed as Tien Ching's secretary. After finding his ad blitzes sabotaged, Tien Ching gets wise to the idea that there is a spy in the company and begins to suspect Ching Li.

As with anything else in Intrigue In Nylons, the movie's poster shot of Tien Ching removing the stockings from Ching Li who is reclining on the bed is just another tease. The closest viewers come to seeing Ching Li's body (or is that a body double) is when she pulls up her dress to reveal the Rose pantyhose she is wearing.

While there is no outright nudity or sex, for a film set in the world of pantyhose and nylons, there is still a fair amount of women's legs being flashed about and there is even a bit of male nudity (decorously covered up, of course) that might prove to be a real turn off.

While Kuei might be hoping that the shots of parading exposed legs can be passed off as "adult" material, he does have an auteuristic attitude when it comes to the movie's musical numbers. The two advertisements concocted by Ching Li and Tien Ching respectively are really music videos (before music videos became a norm) and the clever use of the then-currently-popular tunes of the day gives the film a slightly amusing touch.

Of (academic) interest then is that Intrigue In Nylons is probably one of the few movies with the usually fey (probably the actor's later modus operandi) Tien Ching in a leading role. He was also the lead in Cathay's Mad Mad Mad Mad Sword (1969) though movie fans would best remember him as the conniving landlord in Chu Yuan's House Of 72 Tenants (1972).

Shaw filmmaker Kuei Chih Hung might be noted for his exploitation movies such as Bamboo House Of Dolls (1973), The Killer Snakes (1974), Corpse Mania (1981) and the over-the-top Boxer's Omen (1983) but in the early '70s, he was still trying to find his footing in the erotic genre with this madcap comedy that is really rooted in those '60s black-and-white Cantonese movies. After all, the cast is not only peppered by a who's who in Cantonese movies but Tien Ching's father is played by veteran Cheng Kwan Min, whose role as a slimeball is one that Tien Ching can only emulate.

Note: Intrigue In Nylons (IVL/Celestial) is only available on VCD. The film is not available in $ingapore.

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February 13, 2007

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