Boss Noballs (1989)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2008-04-20
Summary: Offbeat and Oddball
Testicular Elephantitis, handled with sensitivity and tact. Well, no, not here. BNB makes the Carry On series look like a model of restraint. The problem is described in very plain terms. No euphemisms. Extensive use of agricultural similies. A young boy proudly announces to the villagers that his Dad's balls grew to the size of waxed apples, then oranges, then pineapples, then watermelons (though I think this should have read "rockmelons").

BNB is a film of puzzling contradictions. It has the look of a cheapie, with awful washy colouration and mostly filmed in a poor fishing hamlet, yet starring some of Taiwan's top acting talent. The story veers madly between plain sincerity and outrageous wacky comedy. The characters, convincingly innocent and and credibly naive, discuss sexually charged health problems in full detail. Elephantitis is a traumatic condition, literally grotesque, but the sufferers conduct themselves with unusual cheerfulness. They don't show any physical strain, even with testicles weighing ten kilograms. Ouch.

Private parts become public. And in an isolated community, where everyone knows everyone else intimately, expanding balls seem to be everyone's business. For example, when some of the men suggest they will go under the knife, and after it is noted that a doctor would not be needed because it would be just like castrating a pig, another man yells "How could you face your ancestors if you did this ?".

There is almost no private space. The doctor's surgery, where the men are examined, is crowded with the villagers, including the children, who loudly comment on each event. A married couple discussing the swelling are good-naturedly teased by the kids and adults alike. In bed, a woman massages some ointment on her husband's balls. This has a predictable effect, but the wife refuses sex. Not because she doesn't want to, but because she's afraid it will make her mammarian swelling worse. Yep, the women have it as well. Boobs grown to the size of papayas (lots of references to fruit).

The doctor takes on the enviable task of measuring Luk Siu Fan's chest. He then gives his diagnosis, which confirms that of a visting specialist, and the husband exclaims "You just handled my wife's breasts for nothing". It is said with annoyance but not anger or jealousy.

Bear in mind that this is a film made in Taiwan in the late 80s. This is far, far from the coy and naive romances of the two Lins and two Chins. That said, there is absolutely no nudity or sex scenes.

Categorizing this film as a comedy is a tricky judgement call. The director and writer can't seem to make up their minds if the story is a preaching moral tale about public health or a silly comedy, though this uncomfortable balancing act seems to work in the film's favour. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but there is a strong impression that this is a true story.

Anyway, the acting is first-rate, the story clips along at a surprisingly brisk pace (considering what a dull place the village is !), and is never less than involving. The sheer audacity of the public discussion of huge balls and expanding chests engenders a certain stunned fascination.

And the title ? One of the guys who has 'em chopped off later becomes an industrial tycoon (how he managed this is glossed over), who is affectionately known by his staff as, quite literally, Boss Noballs.

I'm not saying this is a great film, but it is entertaining, well-acted and, I promise you, difficult to forget.
Reviewer Score: 6