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  We Love Millionaires Gorgeous Gold-diggers
Year: 1971
Director: Umetsugu Inoue
Stars: Lily Ho Li, Ling Yun, Irene Chen I-ling, Tsui Chih-shu, Lee Kwan, Barry Chan, Kam Hon Sit
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shaw Brothers studios made this happy-go-lucky musical-comedy, which features sun-soaked beaches, candy-coloured nightclubs, funky seventies fashions, and three swinging sex kittens singing and dancing their hearts out in micro-miniskirts. Of such things young men’s dreams are made of. Or maybe it’s just me… We’re in Hong Kong, where the hectic hustle and bustle is too much for three pretty, put-upon shopgirls. Nancy (Lily Ho Li) is hassled by a dirty old man; Lu Hua (Tsui Chih-shu) receives a love poem from a handsome customer, who turns out to be a shoplifter; and hopelessly nearsighted Yili (Irene Chen I-ling) freaks out when a camp pervert wants to buy her underwear. They’ll never find rich boyfriends here, so it’s off to Osaka, Japan, where wealthy playboys spend summer holidays.

Nancy wields a secret weapon: “We Love Millionaires: Complete Love Tactics”, a self-help book on how to blag your way to bagging a rich businessman. En route to Japan, the girls pose as wealthy heiresses, but Yili’s decision to ditch her glasses and show off her pretty face yields calamitous misunderstandings. When they reach Osaka, poor Yili is dumped by her long-term boyfriend for his boss’ daughter, while Nancy discovers her rich uncle and family are really penniless pool cleaners, and the only guy to show any kindness is Gao Lang (Ling Yun), a poor student with holes in his socks. Lounging in seductive swimwear, Nancy lures an eager yuppie whose friend digs Lu Hua, although she has fallen for Peter (Kam Hon-Sit), lead singer/guitarist with struggling beat combo the Can-Can Boys.

Meanwhile, virtuous widower Tianming romances Yili, but is secretly a diamond smuggler mixed up with dangerous gangsters. An unravelling dress, a clumsy jewel thief, a randy older woman out to steal their boyfriends, and a kidnap attempt all complicate matters before we reach the all-singing, bittersweet ending.

The sprightly musicals of Umetsugu Inoue were very popular amongst Hong Kong youth in their day, although today’s cult film critics balk at their tendency to moralise. Viewers are unlikely to feel hectored by this bouncy, candy-coloured snapshot of its era. Fluffy and fun, much of its observations prove highly amusing. Every character here pretends to be someone they’re not, chasing flashier cars, swankier clothes and other things that blind them from true love. The heroines’ rather innocent deception triggers a chain reaction, with fraudsters falling like dominos until only the genuinely decent remain. In a nice scene, Tianming charms Yili onto his bed, but rather touchingly chooses not take advantage after she blurts out: “I love you.” Even Mr. Jin (Lee Kwan), illustrious author of “We Love Millionaires” proves a fraud, whose self-help blather masks his troubled marriage.

Fans of far-out seventies décor will relish the pastel dresses and paisley designs, the Can-Can Boys’ striped trouser-shorts, and a miniskirt count that goes through the roof. Shaw’s sultry sexpot, Lily Ho Li trades one-liners and takes pratfalls with aplomb, and certainly stops traffic in her skimpy, white bikini. Arguably the cutest kitten here is nineteen year old Irene Chen I-ling, groove-tastic in any array of fab gear, especially her glittery, silver mini-dress. Her good looks, dancing and musical talents made her a fixture in Shaw Brothers musical comedies, although like Lily she retired in the mid-seventies. Unusually, it isn’t happy endings all round as Yili is left sobbing, but singing her troubles away.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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