are producers different from the world’s oldest profession? There is nothing the former won’t do for money. Don’t believe it? Well, watch as the producer-protagonist
explains it all to his film school audience in Pang Ho-cheung’s Vulgaria (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Wai-cheung is a second rate producer of C-grade sexploitation films. He owes Lawyer Tsang, his sharkish ex-wife,
scads of alimony and takes the blame for all his little girl’s troubles in
school. Nothing is going right with his
life. Nonetheless, he keeps cobbling
together dubious film projects. After
his latest pitch crashes and burns, he takes a dinner meeting with Brother
T-Rex, a Guangzhou gangster with outrageous kinks (that mule is on the poster
for a reason). Against his better
judgment, To agrees to produce a comeback vehicle for Tyrannosaur’s old crush,
1960’s Hong Kong sex symbol Susan Shaw (appearing as herself).
course, the last thing the down to earth Shaw wants to do in her sunset years
is make a nudie movie. No problem, To
will just CGI her head onto ambitious sexpot Tsui Ka-yan’s curvy body. Known as Popping Candy for reasons we can’t
explain on a family website (well, sort of), Tsui turns out to have more
substance than To gave her credit for.
However, he might have completely sold out his soul and his dignity to
stay in the producing game. Yet, if he
can dredge up the repressed memories, he will confess them all to the film studies
class he is addressing in the film’s flashback narrative device.
real change of pace from Pang’s relationship dramedies like the misleadingly
titled Love in the Buff, Vulgaria (rather aptly titled) follows
more in the tradition of The Player and
other satiric treatments of the movie-making process. While never showing anything really graphic
per se, Pang goes for broke embracing the film’s outrageous jokes (again, you
saw that mule, right?). Yet, the comedy
works more often than not, traveling quite well from Hong Kong to America.
regular Chapman To easily fits into the role of his namesake and the embarrassing
situations that go with it. Never too
cringy, he portrays producer To in that Larry David-George Costanza zone, where
the sad sack and the roguishness intersect.
As Tsui, Dada Chan is quite the discovery, exhibiting a sweetly
endearing presence, but with plenty of va-va-voom. Young Jacqueline Chan also gives the film
some genuine heart as To’s forgiving daughter, also named Jacqueline. While
many in the supporting cast play it way over the top, the material sort of
lends itself to that approach.
is a lot like original The Producers-era Mel Brooks transplanted to the internet age, infectiously
delighting in its political incorrectness.
It is a lot of laughs, but not for anyone who gets hung up on a naughty
joke or the occasional mistreatment of animals.
Consistently funnier than the intermittent Klown, Vulgaria is
recommended for those who appreciate the boldness (especially by HK standards)
of its gags when it opens this Friday (9/28) in New York at the AMC Empire and
in San Francisco at the AMC Metreon, courtesy of China Lion Entertainment.
Labels: Chapman To, Hong Kong Cinema, Pang Ho-cheung, Susan Shaw