HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty, An A strumpet's life for me!
Year: 1984
Director: Eddie Fong
Stars: Pat Ha, Alex Man, Chang Kuo-Chu, Lam Hoi-Ling, Poon Jan-Wai, Ku Feng, Wang Lai, Wong Shu-Tung
Genre: Drama, Sex, Martial Arts, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gifted female scholar Yu Yuan-Gi (Pat Ha) becomes a Taoist priestess to retain her independence at a time when few women could do so in Tang Dynasty China. Yearning to experience aspects of life beyond the limits of her station, Yuan-Gi ingratiates herself among the upper echelons of society by holding extravagant orgies at her house and taking many lovers. Among these, roving swordsman Tsui Pak-Hau (Alex Man) becomes the love of her life. Like Yuan-Gi, Pak-Hau has chosen the life of a vagabond warrior for the sake of freedom. Eventually he abandons Yuan-Gi for the road after which she consoles with a string of affairs, even seducing her faithful handmaiden Lu Chiao (Lam Hoi-Ling) to the disgust of self-righteous scholar Taoist Yung (Poon Jan-Wai). Later on Lu Chiao falls pregnant yet refuses to reveal the father, much to Yuan-Gi's displeasure. When her companion threatens to leave, Yuan-Gi finally goes too far bringing her life as a feminist iconoclast to a tragic end.

By the mid-Eighties Hong Kong's once-mighty Shaw Brothers was in terminal decline yet even in its dying days coughed up a handful of masterpieces. Among these was An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty, ostensibly a historical soft-core porn epic prefiguring such ribald Category III romps as Sex and the Emperor (1994) or Lover of the Last Empress (1995). However, in his directorial debut, HK New Wave auteur Eddie Fong crafts a film far more elegant, literate and subversive than your average period sexploitation effort. It is further distinguished by a potent feminist agenda, critiquing a culture that both limits the options for women and savages them for the choices they do make while painting the flawed yet sympathetic Yu Yuan-Gi as a pioneering philosopher and poet. The film links sexual liberation with spiritual and intellectual growth yet acknowledges that human beings can never really transcend the more simple earthly desire for love. Yuan-Gi longs for the kind of freedom men like Pak-Hau take as their birthright. While her story comes to bleak end the powerfully poetic finale also proves somewhat triumphant in that she finally gets to make a choice.

In scenes as when bandits force Yuan-Gi and Lu Chiao to perform a live girl-on-girl show, Fong cannily delivers the sexploitation goods in a humanistic fashion that does not compromise the film's artistic integrity as a thought-provoking, eloquent historical drama. He also stages some lively swordplay action with plenty of slow-motion violence and flying severed heads. For all its unabashed sensuality the film also spotlights the dark flip-side of libertarianism where refugees are sold into sex slavery or horribly abused. The film contrasts Yuan-Gi's initially empathetic heroine with the stolid Taoist Yung who admires her intellect yet is repulsed by her decadence. Yung believes abstinence is the pathway to enlightenment yet hypocritically vents his sexual frustration through rape.

As sordid as all this might sound the film is never less than beautiful to behold (e.g. the sequence with Yuan-Gi swimming underwater when she bumps into a bloody sword that provides our first glimpse of Pak-Hau). Raymond Lee King-Man won the prestigious Golden Horse award for his striking art direction. Fong's elegant direction is closer to the formalism of Sixties Japanese cinema than Eighties sexploitation fare. Breaking with Shaw Brothers' tradition he abandons the studio for real exterior locations that inject a powerful realism while the outstanding soundtrack mixing choral chants and traditional instruments adds to the film's uniquely authentic ambiance. Sadly, Fong's original cut of the film which ran an hour longer no longer exists. More prolific as a screenwriter than a director, Fong only made four movies but has an enduring partnership with his filmmaker wife Clara Law, having written and produced all her movies. Since the late Nineties the pair have been based in Australia where they have made several acclaimed works, most notably Floating Life (1996) which swept the board at the Golden Horse Awards and was Australia's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Eddie Fong's first cinematic success was the screenplay he penned for Patrick Tam's groundbreaking youth drama Nomad (1982) which also marked the acting debut of Pat Ha. While not conventionally beautiful, Ha exudes an undeniable sensuality which, combined with a restless intellect and soulful intensity, make Yuan-Gi a most compelling, multifaceted anti-heroine. Ha quickly developed a reputation as one of the most adventurous Hong Kong actresses, notably in the Shaw Brothers' drama My Name Ain't Suzie (1985), a riposte to the Hollywood classic The World of Suzie Wong (1960). She also dabbled in lighter fare for the studio including Chu Yuan's contemporary comedy Let's Have a Baby (1985). After a brief retirement in 1989 she resumed acting in the late Nineties and remains active to this day in films like Let's Go! (2011) and The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (2011).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2700 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: