With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A photo shoot in producer To's office space
Directed by Pang Ho-cheung
Hong Kong, 2012, 90 minutes
In Cantonese and Profanity with English subtitles
When: Friday, June 30, 2012 at 8:30 PM
North American Premiere
Where: New York Asian Film Festival
The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, New York, NY

This hilarious, raunchy romp through the process of film-making as experienced by a CAT III Hong Kong producer is the Opening Night Film at this year's New York Asian Film Festival. And it more than lives up to its title.

To Wai-cheung (actor Chapman To) is a down-on-his luck producer of the kind of films whose premieres are never shown on TV. He's being interviewed about just what it is that a producer does by a Professor Cheng in front of an auditorium full of students. He explains that, just as pubic hair reduces friction between a couple fornicating, so a producer is responsible for easing friction between people! And we -- and the film -- are off!

In a series of flashbacks, To elaborates on what befell him in the course of making his latest movie. He has had to deal with his ex-wife, a barrister to whom he is behind in his alimony payments. She wants to severely curtail, if not completely end, his visitation rights with their daughter, Jacqueline. To's further suffers from his almost totally incompetent female assistant. And then there's the matter of a bounced check, or two, or three, or four, or more.

Double the pleasure of Clerks II?

A call from a friend results in him hooking up with Brother Tyrannosaurus, a mainland gangster with money to born and some peculiar culinary and sexual inclinations. Brother T says he'll back a film remake of the porn classic Confessions of a Concubine, providing it again stars Yum Yum Shaw, who was in the original.

This puts To in a quandary because, as Yum Yum indicates when she and To "do lunch," she wouldn't think allowing herself to be shot in the nude at her age and that no one would want to see her like that anyway. When he hooks up with a would-be starlet named Popping Candy, To comes up with a brilliant plan to make everyone happy. Tyrannosaurus will get the porn star he loved when he was a youth in the film he's financing. Yum Yum will get to star but not reveal her aged body. Popping Candy finally will get to star, at least to a degree, in a movie. And best of all, To will get to make a movie and hopefully lots and lots of money!

Director To with aspiring actress Popping Candy

[Popping Candy, I must note, is played by the lovely and extremely well-endowed Dada Chan (best known as "E-cup Babe"). The character's name, build, and nature bring to my mind the character Kandi (played by April Bowlbi) who became Alan's second wife and was in a total of fifteen episodes of Two and a Half Men from 2005 to 2007.]

Needless to say, things do not go according to To's plans. But he has an angle and an answer for everything. And he also proves himself to be a masterful manipulator as he slyly arranges to save his completed film from pre-release purgatory.

Subway Cinema, the group that presents the annual NYAFF, says this about Vulgaria: "Shot in just 12 days, on a microscopic budget, the actors, director, and screenwriter wrote this porno Apocalypse Now as they went along." All I can say in response is that to have come up with a comedic triumph like Vulgaria under these circumstances is INCREDIBLE!

This is a "be sure to see it if you can" screening. Just also be sure to stick around through the credits or you'll miss some final touches that further cement this film as one helluva terrific comedy.

I'll be there even though I've already watched a screener DVD. I can't wait to see it again, especially in the context of NYAFF's opening night with what's sure to be a huge, enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

Plus, special guest, director Pang Ho-cheung, will attend the screening!

This screening of Vulgaria is part of Return of the King: Hong Kong Movies 15 Years After the Handover, a festival sidebar update on the status of the Hong Kong film industry fiften years after the handover to Mainland China.

And for another positive review of Vulgaria, this one by Pierce Conran at AsianCineFest associate VCinema, click here.

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