Directed by: Tseng-Chai Chang
Actors: Han Chin, Tina Chin-Fei, Ti Ai
Country: Hong Kong
Also known as: Mian ju, The Mask
This movie is about a young man who goes from job to job and bed to bed hoping to find full-time employment. Lin Weiban is a handsome young man who leaves his home in the country in order to find a job in the city. He goes to an employment agency, where he meets the beautiful Du Pi, who gets him job modeling swimsuits at a boutique run by a woman named Salsali. While Du Pi introduces him as an experienced model, after one day’s shoot it is apparent that he is not. Still, Salsali exposes him to the strange world of modeling and says that she will train him. He winds up in bed with Salsali. Later, Salsali calls Weiban and tells him that she has another job for him. When he arrives where they are to meet, she, scantily dressed, seduces him. She then gets him a job as a live-in, full-time caretaker for Mrs. Oh, who is confined to a wheelchair. After learning that Weiban and Du Pi were lovers, Mrs. Oh warns him to stay away from women other than herself. That night, after removing her prosthetic legs, Mrs. Oh forces Weiban to carry her, naked, into the bath. Later, Salsali shows up unannounced on his day off, takes him dancing, and introduces him to her friend Linda, whom he takes home. There, they start to make love, but are discovered by Mrs Oh, who throws them out of her house. The rest of the movie is about Lin Weiban’s response to the demands of the controlling women who have been his lovers and his ever-more confusing love life, including his relationship with a gay man, who turns out to be his only true friend.
In its honest depiction of the darker part of sex, “Sex For Sale” broke new ground for Hong Kong cinema. The Shaw Brothers studio, which made countless, traditional, kung-fu films, also made some sexy films, like this one. Shot with impressive production values, as was typical for Shaw Brothers movies, “Sex For Sale” features candy-colored segments, some of which involve the world of 1970’s fashion, including gorgeous people. The sex scenes are particularly tasteful. The musical score makes them even sexier. It is a discouraging film to be certain, but worth watching. What helps make the film distinctive is the fact that there is no “good man” to root for. The primary character isn’t really sympathetic; he does some unsavory things to get ahead and appears to have no control over his own sex drive. He is gullible and sometimes simply silly, but that makes him seem somehow innocent. This might be a good film; it’s jaded look at the1970’s swingers’ world is interesting. While it is similar to movies like “Midnight Cowboy,” I believe it is more like “American Gigolo.”
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