qf (1973)
The Generation Gap


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/13/2006
Summary: I've done nothing wrong!

Ling Xi (David Chiang) is a young man from a wealthy, respectable family in a relationship with Cindy (Agnes Chan), an underaged singer. She suffers physical abuse from her father, and her mother is an ineffectual doormat. Both sets of parents disapprove of their relationship, and the inevitable teenage rebellion ensues. They run away and rent a squalid flat together where they live poorly, but contentedly. Ling Xi’s father disowns him, and his “straight” brother Ling Zhao (Ti Lung) sides with his father, returning Cindy to the family home. Brother is pitted against brother, and Ling Xi descends into a life of crime.

Generation Gap is interesting despite its many flaws. The cautionary narrative is heavy handed, and the two sides of the generation gap appear too two-dimensional. As a social statement, it doesn’t work now and it probably didn’t work then, either. However, the character of Ling Xi is surprisingly rounded and his continual cry of “I’ve done nothing wrong” is both realistic and heartfelt. It should be stressed that his relationship with Cindy is always implied to be non-sexual. In fact, when she urges Ling Xi to kiss her, he declines. Her age is never explicitly mentioned, but she appears to be about fourteen.

Fans of Ti Lung should be warned that he only plays a minor role in this film – although his fight with David Chiang beside a railway track is a real highlight. There are some other familiar faces in this as well – Fu Sheng, Ricky Hui (looking very young!) and Dean Shek (with a shaved head!) all put in a non-action appearance.

Obviously, being made in 1973, the film has dated somewhat. The scenes in the nightclub are great for fans of kitsch 70’s settings (like myself). Of particular note is one scene where an extremely effeminate man in a frilly shirt dances to Agnes’s singing – it’s hilarious! Actually, the songs in this film (and there are plenty) are a wonder. I don’t know who did them or when, but they’re truly, head-scratchingly, bonkers – and they’re all delivered in English.

The action in this film is understandably second fiddle to the story – which makes the quality of the fight scenes all the more odd. When things do finally kick off, it’s a wonder to behold. The final showdown in the harbour is fantastically shot, and has a gut-wrenching stunt thrown in at no extra charge. At times, this scene looks like an 80’s film rather than a Shaw Brothers film from 1973.

So, in the end, Generation Gap is interesting, but I doubt you’ll want to keep coming back to it.

Cal’s music trivia: The main theme to this film uses the same vamp as Blue Oyster Cult’s “Teen Archer”, which was recorded the same year and appears on their “Tyranny and Mutation” album. Also, the scene where David Chiang and his triads trash the nightclub is played against a jam using the themes from the same group’s “I’m On The Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep” from their first album. However, the ending music is VERY reminiscent of Isaac Hayes’s “Shaft”.

Reviewer Score: 6