Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972) 愛奴


Country: Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin
Director: Chor Yuen
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Lily Ho, Hua Yueh, Betty Pei Ti, Lin Tung, Chung Shan Man, Mei Sheng Fan

Theme: Women (Suppression & Empowerment)

Ratings: IMDB.com: 7.4/10

Film Festivals:

Awards: N/A

Nominations: N/A

 

As a landmark in Hong Kong cinema, the story of Chor Yuen’s Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan revolves around homosexual prostitutes set within an old world setting.  As a young girl, Ai Nu was kidnapped and sold to a brothel run Chun Yi, a beautiful kung-fu wielding lesbian. Fascinated by the plucky Ai Nu, Chun Yi tries to seduce her on multiple attempts. They eventually become lovers, with the latter imparting her kung fu skills to her protégé. However, this was all part of Ai Nu’s ploy to exact revenge against four wealthy and influential men who raped her previously, and ultimately Chun Yi and the entire establishment.

Despite its suggestive name and theme, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan turns out to be an artistic blend of kung fu with carefully woven elements of mystery, sensuality, grotesque horror and romantic melodrama. While erotic in certain scenes, director Chor Yuen does them tastefully through the use of elegant music and multi-layered colors. Before directing Intimate Confessions, Chor Yuen specialized in melodramas and social realist romances. He had his roots entrenched in the Cantonese language cinema of Hong Kong and these were small scale films that focused on character building and relationships rather than action. Color and lighting were important tools that such movies used to convey or create mood and Chor Yuen brought these ideas and techniques along with him when he directed Intimate Confessions. Furthermore, as opposed to other film makers who tend to make use of grassy hills or mountains to film their fight sequences, Chor Yuen’s films are staged in detailed and lavishly constructed sets, making his scenes highly artistic and visually impressive, overall playing down on any crude connotations or distaste in the nudity or eroticism in several scenes (Keith, 2004). An example of this is the rape scene of Ai Nu – instead of painting the scene with a series of graphically stimulating shots, Chor Yuen puts the scene across rather tastefully by juxtaposing the expressions on Ai Nu’s face with the colors of the silk curtains in the room. The transposition of colors and shots conveyed her thoughts of fear, helplessness and anger.

In terms of the movie’s kung fu choreography, moderation is a good word to describe Chor Yuen’s approach towards the film. Unlike typical kung fu films that tend to overplay or exaggerate their fight sequences, Chor Yuen keeps his scenes realistic by limiting the use of wirework and trampoline stunts. The use of ground level camera work also keeps the melee scenes very real and to the audience perspective.

All in all, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan was a successful visual blend of action, gore and sexuality, all packaged within the controversial topic of lesbianism. This success factor was further redefined when the film was remade in 1984 – Lust for Love of a Chinese Courtesan.

References

Keith. (2004, November 18). Clans of intrigue. Retrieved November 14, 2010 from http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=715

 

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