Girls Unbutton (1994)

Directed by: Taylor Wong
Written by: Lam Chiu-Wing
Producer: Chua Lam
Starring: Loletta Lee, Leung Si-Ho, David Siu, Elvis Tsui, Miki Ng, Hung Yuk-Laan & Strawberry Yeung


 

On her run of naked roles since 1993's Crazy Love (and concluding it with Sex & Zen II) by the time Girls Unbutton came out, Loletta Lee should still look back on a rather notable and respectable movie career before (going back as far as Tsui Hark's Shanghai Blues) and since (being nominated for her role in Ann Hui's Ordinary Heroes). Sure, Chicken A La Queen, Remains Of A Woman, Once Upon A Time In Triad Society to name a few may only be remembered by a movie going audience not being able to affect Hong Kong box-office (i.e. the Western fans) but I'll play the notable, distinctive movie career card despite. One that ended his directorial career with Girls Unbutton was Taylor Wong, a dependent although not overly exciting director. But again, having the wild Shaw Brothers fantasy Buddha's Palm, Tragic Hero and the Kidnap remake Sentenced To Hang on your resume says a lot and the latter is distinctive for being the first locally produced movie to get the newly created Category III rating. The movie at hand is also distinctive for trying a bit, trying to adhere to quite an extreme silliness rather than being a run of the mill sex flick but slowly but surely Wong reveals why he was not an exciting engine for Hong Kong cinema.

Jenny (Loletta Lee) is unlucky in love. It hasn't worked manipulating her boyfriend, a triad boss (Elvis Tsui) bites the dust just before he's about to marry her, politician Pong Kwong Yim (David Siu) favours his career and mentally unstable wife (Strawberry Yeung - Gates Of Hell) but will suicidal boat enthusiast Ho (Leung Siu-Ho) be the one?

Jenny is jumping between a few different males and it means a rather episodic structure, not totally unlike Crazy Love. Despite launching into the nudity pretty soon to warrant the III rating, Taylor Wong instead showcases the clumsy and physical nature to Jenny. Even during sex you might come out with a concussion but this naive girl reveals she's of the view she has to trap men with lies. I.e. the feast cooked at the start that will be included in the aborted sex scene is take away food. Strike one. Even when relying on the III, Wong showcases several fun tangents not quite being elevated to hilarity like the beach ran by environmentally friendly triads (there's fees for sand wand water) and Strawberry Yeung as the mentally unstable wife at least has a great intro as we see her trying to be part of the furniture amidst another sex scene. Plus Elvis Tsui acting big to compliment the portrayal of triads as rather kooky is probably the best episodic concept that works.

Taylor doesn't even make the sex scenes stand out as unwarranted padding. He'd rather take some into silly (Jenny's friends have partners that has to have kneepads and crash helmets during sex) and aborted, unpredictable comedic territory. So the flesh is plenty, the copulation not for once.

It should've been funnier though and Taylor Wong's pattern of providing a movie that is really dormant, whether or not it's an action, triad or in this case adults only sex comedy, repeats again. There's material here destined to become legendary in the nonsense comedy realm of Hong Kong cinema but it simply isn't even amusing at points. Loletta Lee fans are able to enjoy her cute and sexy side tenfold but within a comedy frame, the journey of Jenny isn't particularly interesting to follow. The final sex scene rife with emotions is also incredibly awkward and flat, something that isn't the case for Lee's scene with Tsui in an alley earlier in the film. Performer chemistry. It may sound mean but Taylor going out on this note was a good summary of his career and I'm glad he's not around anymore.

The DVD (Universe):

Video: 1.72:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.

Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0.

Subtitles: English, Chinese (burned in)

Extras: None.

 

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson