花花公子 (1964)
The Beau


Reviewed by: dleedlee
Date: 04/29/2005

It’s a romance, it’s a comedy, it’s a melodrama, and it’s excellent.

Playboy Ka Bo is not ready to settle down though his parents want grandchildren. They cut him off financially and throw him out of the house, a really big house. All of Ka Bo’s old girlfriends abandon him when they learn that he is now penniless. All except Lily, that is, who connives with her mother, hoping to harvest his wealth at a later time, convinced that he will eventually be reinstated into the good graces of his family. Ka Bo and Lily get engaged, Ka Bo thinking that Lily’s love is true and not based on money as the other women have proven. While temporarily living in a hospital (!), Ka Bo meets a nurse, Suk On. When Lily temporarily abandons him, Ka Bo and his pal (who also happens to be Suk On’s cousin) prevail on Suk On to pose as the fiancee he must produce to be allowed back into the household. Soon enough, Suk On endears herself to the old man and the family treats her as Ka Bo’s true fiancee. Lily and her parents resurface at a birthday celebration to claim their rightful piece of Ka Bo now that his place (and his fortune) in the family is restored Ka Bo’s father deftly outwits them. Needless to say, by film’s close, the honest and righteous are rewarded and the greedy get their comeuppance.

The very handsome and always watchable, Patrick Tse Yin, playing Ka Bo is better than average here. The role of a rich philandering playboy seems to suit him. Patsy Ka Ling, as Suk On, is also superior here to most of her roles where she generally mopes through her roles. Perhaps it’s because the character of Suk On has a bit of sass to her or that Ka Ling seems more human here as a common nurse than in her typical flower vase just-look-sophisticated-and-beautiful roles. And whoever cast Yung Yuk Yi and Chui Mei Wa as the money hungry mother-daughter pair was right on the mark. A scarier duo of shrews one wouldn’t wish for under one roof. The great Lo Dun and Lee Yuet Ching play Ka Bo’s parents. Ma Siu Ying, who typically plays a shrewish mother herself, in an unusual but effective part plays nurse Lee, the father’s caretaker. Fear not, she still has ample opportunity to moan and wail, loudly. Another funny small role is that by the actor playing Lily’s father. Bemused by the females in his family, he quietly observes the antics from the sideline always with a drink in hand and making the occasional wry comment. Law Lan briefly appears at the beginning of the film as one of Ka Bo’s many sweethearts.

No doubt, director Chun Kim who also co-wrote the script deserves a huge amount of the credit for making this such an enjoyable film. Cinematographer Chan Kon, whose credit I see more and more of in films of merit, also deserves a mention.

The popular 1963 song ‘Sukiyaki’, as a jazzy up tempo version, is a recurring theme, starting with the opening credits and heard throughout the film. The lyrics, appropriately enough include the line, “I look up when I walk, so the tears won't fall, my heart is filled with sorrow, for tonight I'm all alone". The syrupy theme in the second half of the film that you might recognize but can’t quite place, so I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up like I did, is “More”, the theme from Mondo Cane (a notorious pseudo-documentary) from 1962. Coincidentally, or not, both songs are featured on jazz trombonist Kai Winding’s 1963 LP Soul Surfin’ along with surf hits like “Pipeline”, “Surf Bird” , “Soul Surfin’” and “Tube Wail”.

Reviewer Score: 7