Looking for love... with a teacher... or in a bar... But when it comes to sex on the campus, Ho Fan's Innocent Lust is pretty innocent, even with a topless masseur and an undergrad getting picked up by a sex-hungry socialite. Stephen Tan reviews.


Unlike many movies which focus on a young person's sexual awakening, Ho Fan's Innocent Lust prefers to look at a young person's first sexual experience.

Part comedy of errors; part melodrama and full-on sexploitation, Innocent Lust centres on three undergrads who bemoan the fact that they have no girlfriends. While all three are rather shy in the presence of girls, Chen Chun-hao has a crush on his Caucasian teacher. While he tries to arrange a "date" with his teacher - like going out for a meal and then going to her home - he is turned down. But he does get to watch the teacher strip and change her clothes. In class, he fantasises about his teacher removing her clothes in what can be said to be some form of drug-induced frenzy. [Made in 1977, little did director Ho Fan know that today in the United States, it is the women teachers who are charged with having sex with their male students.]

Ai Fei appears the more aggressive of the three and agrees to see if the sauna experience is what it claims to be. Faced with a masseur who is stripped down to her panties, Ai Fei chickens out when the masseur offers him the whole works.

Just when things appear a dead end, Ai Fei meets Ho Yen, who has just returned from overseas. The two had been childhood friends and with Ai Fei's feelings for Ho Yen growing stronger, he hopes the two could be more intimately involved. Out in the park one evening, Ai Fei tries to unbutton Ho Yen's dress only to get a scolding from Ho Yen before she storms off. Dejected, Ai Fei looks for sex in a bar but before anything happens, Ho Yen turns up and takes Ai Fei up a hill. There, she removes her clothes and says that if sex is all that Ai Fei wants, he can have her. Ai Fei then realises the error of his ways.

Meanwhile, Chen Chun-hao goes out with student Chen Wei-ying, who also works part-time in a bar, and both get caught in the rain one night. Wei-ying brings Chun-hao to her home and the two end up having sex. Prowling the bars, studious-looking Lam Choi gets picked up by a sex-hungry socialite who initiates the young man into sex. Strangely he does not end up being her boy toy (since she got as much out of the sex as him) but decides to go out with a fellow student Cheng Suk-ying who has always been interested in him.

Like many of Lui Kei's erotic movies at Shaw Brothers where sex and nudity take precedence over what is basically a '60s Cantonese melodrama, Ho Fan is presented with a palette of opportunities which he does not use.

Even with all the pathos, the film ends up with cardboard characters - the obvious example being the class "clown" who thinks he's a poet but who's a peeping tom at heart and gets beaten up after watching Cheng Suk-ying take a bath. Ho Fan, who made his mark playing the priest, Tripitaka, in Shaw's Monkey Goes West series, simply does not go far enough.

Sure, the nudity and sex are enticing. Interestingly the first nude sequence features none of the leads but what looks like a European X-rated movie of a lesbian couple that the three young men are watching in a cinema. By focusing on female nudity and the accompanying sex act (that's what the paying customers are in for), Ho Fan missed out on fleshing out the young people's attitude towards sex. As it is, the sex comes across as something these young people like to get over and be done with!

An open-ending or even a bitter-sweet ending to the film would be more apt since the film should reflect the uncertainty that life has in store for these young people. Innocent Lust's happy ending only gives a momentary feel-good to what is a movie of missed chances.

Note: The Innocent Lust DVD (IVL/Celestial) is banned in $ingapore.

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May 6, 2007


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