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Hong Kong 2005

Comedy, Drama

Edmond Pang

Lawrence Chou
Derek Tsang
Wong You Nam
Chow Chik Fai
Tsui Tin Yau
Amamiya Manami
Chim Sui Man
Eric Kot
Chin Kar Lok
Hui Shiu Hung
Wong Man Wai

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Story: Four guys without any perspective in life, Band Aid (Derek Tsang), Jason (Wong You Nam), Fatty (Chow Chik Fai) and their "leader" Leung (Lawrence Chou) are about to complete college and to enter working life. But they have problems with their girlfriends and they want to do something outstanding and extraordinary before entering the life of adults. Eventually, the four guys get the glorious idea to hire an AV-(Adult Video) Star. The porn flick they are pretending to shot will never be released of course, because that's not what this is all about. They want to realize their dream and for this they are also ready to pay quite an amount of money. 2,5 Mio Yen is the amount they need to save, but by taking up a loan they soon got all the money together.
Everything works perfect, favorite porn star Amamiya Manami arrives in Hong Kong, student Kar-Lok (Tsui Tin Yau) who was kicked from university, where he studied movies, is hired as a director, and so there is only one problem left to take care of: the fee has changed to 4 Mio Yen. However, Leung comes up with a plan. He talks with other students, and gives them the opportunity to be part of something really big - which is to personally watch an AV-Star at work!
But there are a few other obstacles left. It seems that Jason has fallen in love with Manami, and moreover the shooting always gets delayed by some odd reasons...

Review: "AV" is far less lewd than what it might sound like. But what's even more important: It may seem to be a wacky and bad sex comedy for pimply teens, whose messed-up hormone balance may be the only reason why they can laugh about jokes that aim far below the belt, but actually it's nothing like that!
Edmond Pang's work after "Beyond our Ken" stands out because of the same kind of "bad" black and somewhat wacky humor, that already made his "Men Suddenly in Black" so successful. However, along the way Pang oftentimes tries to weave some serious parts of profoundness and meaning into the film. Eventually he fails, because his work proves to be nothing more but lighthearted, political incorrect entertainment. Without the end product being too stupid to watch, fortunately.

Teens, who don't know where they are heading in life isn't an inventive theme for a movie. Yet, the way the four friends want to define themselves is pretty amusing and odd. Sleeping with an AV star seems to be the highest reachable goal on the restricted horizon of these kids. Ludicrous? For sure, but the four guys learn more about life than we first would have thought possible. They have to reorientate in life, have to find out that it's not that easy to pretend to shot a movie and to remain within the frame of what their budget provides them with. Along with it, they learn important lessons of life, because now more or less the four have to take responsibility, have to act like businessmen and also become aware that it's not as far-fetched for them to work in normal business and to be part of society one day. But until then we get a lot of funny scenes in which our protagonists don't only see themselves as rebels, but almost as revolutionaries.

At the beginning the humor is the dominating factor of this comedy, naturally. One of the highlights is the scene, in which the guys try to take up a loan in order to hire the AV-Star. The four guys come up with the most absurd ideas for the bank to approve their request. Whereas Jason's idea also has a practical use, since he invented a tool with which it becomes impossible to cheat when playing paper, scissors, stone...
Of course there are more of these kind of scenes and you also have to give the movie credit for the fact that there are luckily no jokes below the belt. Naturally, there aren't many brains cells involved when it comes to scenes where the boys are snorting sugar, only to look like if they were snorting coke, in order to make an impression on a group of girls. Still, this nonsense can be fun most of the time.

The actors all succeed in giving their characters the necessary charisma, and even though they can't deliver any profound acting, their characters nonetheless are very individual and colorful. For the role of the AV-Star, Pang could get a real porn actor, namely Amamiya Manami, on board. That was a good choice as her role feels very natural and authentic this way. Of course we also have your standard "boy falls in love with porn star" situation and eventually the guy also wants her to quit her job. Amamiya oftentimes seems very naive and the way she ended up in this business is also very stereotypical. However, that's also why she is quite convincing in her role, especially when we have to find out later on that she actually is a sly old dog.

Edmond Pang shot his film in handcamera style as he often does. But he also always avoids the cheap look and cinematography that normally comes along with this kind of movie-making. Furthermore, thanks to the movie's theme you can't say that this comedy is really reserved, but apart from a few dialogues and Manami topless, there is not much pornographic content. Which is good, as it probably would have hurt the film if they would have shown more.
Unfortunately, "AV" more and more loses sight of the story as it progresses. Thus, the film oftentimes seems a bit disjointed and incoherent. Moreover, Pang every now and then tries to link the events of his work to a student movement of 1971, in order to give his work a certain meaning. That he fails becomes pretty obvious at the end where we get a last text message that tries to force the movie's so-called "message" into us. Yes, this comedy also depicts the serious problems teenagers have to face, their fear of entering adulthood and working life, and their lack of perspective, but that's not enough to claim more profoundness than there actually is.

Pang's sarcasm is very refreshing and the way he makes this somewhat "serious" movie while at the same time making fun of the ideals (?) of teenagers is very amusing. Sadly, the end product doesn't work as a whole, which can be quite annoying at times. Despite all that, the black humor and the different characters will win you over before you know it. If nothing else, this flick can be quite entertaining.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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