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Vulgaria - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Disu xiju

Hong Kong 2012


Pang Ho-Cheung

Chapman To
Dada Chen
Ronald Cheng
Simon Lui
Fiona Sit
Lawrence Cheng
Siu Yam-Yam
Crystal Tin
Hiro Hayama
Miriam Yeung
Lawrence Chou
Jim Chim

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Story: Film producer To Wai-Cheung (Chapman To) is asked by an old friend to talk about his work in front of his students. To thus tells of the actual work of a producer as a mediator. Apart from that a producer naturally has to find investors for a new movie, too. That's just where To has his troubles lately, to that extent that he even lets himself be talked into meeting with Mainland triad boss Tyrannosaur (Ronald Cheng) by his friend Lui Wing-Shing (Simon Lui). Tyrannosaur in fact wants to give him money for a movie, but he wants to see a sequel to the erotic flick "Confession of a Concubine" (aka "I Want More") with the original actress Siu Yam-Yam. The only problem being that Siu is a little bit past her prime after more than 30 years. Therefore, To decides to use his acquaintance Popping Candy (Dada Chen) as a body double, the only woman who he can rely on at the moment as his secretary (Fiona Sit) isn't a big help to him and his ex-wife (Crystal Tin) is making his life a living hell anyway. To has a lot to report to the students about how much of an ordeal filmmaking can actually be.

Review: A movie that warns you about its category-III nature, in the shape of coarse language and several sexual themes, beforehand and doesn't leave any doubt that it is also only aimed at a certain audience naturally makes you curious right from the very beginning. Even the more if the film is from one of the most interesting and versatile directors of Hong Kong who always has some sort of surprise up his sleeve. "Vulgaria" actually proves to be a movie that mainly will please movie buffs and those who are familiar with the industry or Hong Kong culture. Despite its at times strong lack of a focus the movie will prove very entertaining for exactly that kind of audience and delivers some coarse but also very well done comedy.

Vulgaria - Film Screenshot 11

One of the running-gags is the question whether To had sexual intercourse with a mule or not. What might sound like an incredibly tasteless joke is depicted in the movie in a very wacky manner and can actually make you laugh, aside from the disgusted face you'll make, of course. Reason for that is Ronald Cheng who plays the Mainland gangster boss. He somehow seems to be a likeable guy, always in a good mood, but he still has something volatile about him, which is what makes the situation between him and To during their friendly dinner captivating and dangerous, leading to To being forced to do things that he most likely will never be able to forgive himself in the future - if he could remember them, that is. "Vulgaria" is composed of a lot of individual scenes that are well done, but if this actually adds up to a good film in the end...

Vulgaria - Film Screenshot 12

The film majors are less interested in To's layout of the movie industry than in the matter of the mule. They don't care for his relationship with Popping Candy either and since most of the events are reported by To this gives Pang Ho-Cheung a good reason to neglect this relationship a bit. Thus, Dada Chen always is some real eye candy in her role and also a likeable individual, but she still lacks depth. The scenes that work a lot better are those with To and his ex-wife as well as his daughter, since there is in fact a difficult relationship drawn within a tight space and we are actually feeling involved. A nice extra that you wouldn't really have had any reason to expect here.

For many CAT-III represents something like a genre, but there is neither some soft porn to be seen here nor is this a splatter movie. This rating is simply founded in the selection of themes and the language. Especially concerning latter it doesn't need to be pointed out that not every joke could be translated into the subtitles just fine, nonetheless "Vulgaria" is at times hilarious, also thanks to Pang Ho-Cheung's brilliancy that constantly flashes up. His ideas are fresh, he is making fun of the movie industry and more than anything else the people working there in an amusing way - e.g. there is the director, who is operating a mahjong gambling den or an actor who is afraid of exploding body parts - and at the end he even worked in a nice twist.

Vulgaria - Film Screenshot 13

Naturally, there are also several cameos in "Vulgaria", maybe even more interesting, though, is that Pang breaks the forth wall on several occasions, thus addressing the audience directly. In a movie about movies this in fact works out well and there is also created an interlaced narration structure this way, which is very original. Sadly, the screenplay seems to have been written during the shooting of the movie, because there isn't really a single thread running through all of this. As already stated, it seems to be surprising that director Pang doesn't show any explicit scenes of nudity, even less than in his film "AV", but simply got his CAT-III rating because of his dialogues. "Vulgaria" is a smart movie, aside from all the nonsense, but it is also pretty special concerning its nature and thus, despite the high entertainment value, it will probably only be interesting for those who are a bit familiar with Hong Kong cinema.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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