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June 08, 2006

Shaw Brothers Double Feature


Raw Passions/Law Huet
Lo Chen - 1969
Celestial Pictures Region 3 DVD


The Lark/Xiao yun que
Hsieh Chun - 1965
Celestial Pictures Region 3 DVD

I need to note that for the next couple of months, entries will be sporadic. I finally sold my condo last Sunday and am now figuring out the logistics of where I will be moving to, as well as when. As soon as I am settled, I should be getting back to a more consistent pattern of writing. As I may be using other computers, there may not be film stills for a while. Keep watching this space for future news and developments. In the meantime, here are a couple of films I did catch . . .

A woman is stalked and murdered by an assailant, unseen by the viewer except for a gloved hand and a bloody knife. Raw Passions transposes some of the motifs associated with Mario Bava to Hong Kong, with strenuously bizarre camera angles, psychedelic opening credits and garish color schemes. The film is about two men caught up in a blackmail scheme involving nightclub performer Sasa, seen above, played by Suzy Meng Li. Director Lo Chen may have also taken a few pointers from Jesus Franco in filming Sasa's solo dance with the lens concentrated on her breasts and nether region. I have no idea what the original lyrics say, but Sasa's torch song about being a drunken slut, has this translated line:"That light, is it red or yellow? Beside you, I'm a drunken fellow."

The songs in The Lark don't have any hilarious (mis)translations of note. Like all of the other Shaw Brothers musicals from the Sixties, it stars Peter Chen Ho, this time as a hapless reporter posing as a music promoter to get close to Mandarin pop star Carrie Ku Mei, known as "The Little Lark". This is the Hong Kong equivalent to a musical starring Connie Francis, with the state of pop music represented by young women singing with serious emoting and many tears. The film is signficant as a vehicle for Carrie Ku Mei, a popular singer, but one who also was the singing voice for other stars, Hong Kong's Marni Nixon. The closest the film comes to anything resembling rock music is one of the big musical numbers near the end of the film. On a rooftop set, a bunch of "juvenile delinquents" perform a number that combines the social concerns of West Side Story with the sunny joy of Bye Bye Birdie. As boggling as that number is, I missed the brio of Russ Tamblyn and the sassiness of Ann-Margret.

Posted by peter at June 8, 2006 05:56 PM


I've been enjoying all your recent Shaw Brothers reviews even if I may like the movies a little more than yourself. I hope to review some Shaw films myself soon. I love their 60s & early 70s stuff!

Posted by: K. at June 13, 2006 02:22 PM