Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan (1972)
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i have no idea how to review this movie in english, and appreciating it requires some cultural sensibility related to the background, the language, the phrases in the script and the intertextual subtlety related to other genres of chinese cinema during 1970s. remember the first scene in quentin tarantino's kill bill, tarantino shows his homage to kung-fu movies by dubing the logo of hongkong's shaw studio in 1970s when kung-fu movies were sold to the other side of the world. but shaw studio made more than just kung-fu movies, and kung-fu movies have several scenarios derided from the ancient tales of our cultural history, not just a bunch of people wear ancient customs and fight like some half-witted retards.
there're several archetypes in the traditional archaic chinese pulps: revenge tales, kung-fu legends (the name kung-fu sucks. correctly the genre is called "tales of chivalrous justice" just like swashbucklers. kung-fu sounds stupid to me) then erotic urban legends like golden lotus, the first chinese realism literature which was written centuries ago before europe's renaissance. this movie mixes these three genres together and blends it with a lesbian twist. in figures of speech, imagine robin hood+ count monte cristo + marquis de sade = intimate confession of a chinese courtesan...ok, i have another thing to say: the translation sucks! the name aims at audience who would buy whatever shits in a chinese antic shop as long as it's dragon or buddha. the corret translation is slave of love, which is the meaning of the leading woman's name. (in our culture, each name has a deriative meaning.).
a young woman is robbed by a couple of rogues on the road, and she is sent to a brothel to be trained as a a prostitute (in ancient time, brothels hire professional gangsters to rob ill-fated females and force them to be prostitutes). but this woman refuses to conform. she receives severe abuses. but her untamed manners draw the covet from the brothel's female boss, who happens to be a lesbian dominatrix who takes pleasure in whipping others and licking their blood.
after a series of die-hard resistances and attempted suicides, this woman is guided by a male servant who works as a cleaner in the brothel, and he sacrifices his life at rescuing her. but she still cannot manage to escape. before the man dies, he requests her to swear that someday she will take revenge for him and herself and she will never waste her life away before that.
eventually she is still forcefully sent to be raped by several richest men in town. but now she chooses to conform. she becomes the lover of the brothel woman boss. she feigns intimacy with the boss in order to acquire all the martial tricks from the boss meanwhile she schemes on murdering every client who has ever violated her.
at last, she cripples and slaughters the woman who puts her into all these miseries (the brothel boss), but she also dies for giving in to her momentary mercy. she accpets the boss' demand of granting a last kiss. but lips are already smeared with poison. her name is love's slave and she dies for the remnant of love within her, even for her worst enemy. (did she love her just a little bit, or not? but she just dies of kissing her.)
ok, i try my best, it sounds awkward in english. "intimate confession of a chinese courtesan" sounds not so appetizing, i mean the name, come on, from the storyline, you could tell it's a swashbuckler avenger movie! even a lesbian/dominatrix version of swashbuckler avenger movie! courtesan my ass! fuck orientalism. real orient is so much cooler!
(ps) even the scenario sounds a little bit like porn, and you might be misled by the movie poster, which adapts some blatant sensationalism just to sell more tickets and copies, but you would never see the nudities you expect to see. yes, there're naked women, but they're all secondary. disaposable characters. as for the main stars, they're fully clothed. even it was 1970s, mainstream chinese cinema was still quite conservative and pedagogic.
You can't review this movie, you just have to watch it. It certainly falls into the sleezy/campy subsection of Shaw Brothers films, but it does so many things right. Tons of blood, tons of amazing fight scenes, weird bondage/lesbian action. Let me put extra emphasis on "weird", you will come away perplexed. But this movie is entertaining from start to finish, with some of the fight sequences at the end being somewhat breath taking.
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