China Dolls (1992)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2002-12-28
Summary: Unpleasant, verging on nasty
First, the good news.
This is one of only two films which in I know of, where Amy Yip plays a genuinely leading role (the other is Queen of the Underworld). As opposed to the many films for which she received high billing but spent little time onscreen.
And La Amy gives a decent go at serious acting. No comedy turns here.
Also, there's a lovely long group shower scene about 45 minutes in (though, of course, Amy is shown only head and shoulders).
Amy comes probably as close as she ever would to actually revealing her nipples, during the opening scene, when she is shown breast feeding her (lucky) son.
There's a lick of good fu-fighting, and a total-non-sequitur full gun battle.
Giving Amy some decent competition is Taiwanese playboy centrefold Ga Ling, who has three short scenes. One, in the cage, where she smiles instead of looking sad (which she also did in Vietnamese Lady). Two, in the shower (she's on the other side of Lee Yuet Sin). Three, as the girl complaining about a 300 pound client. Never a great actress, but very easy on the eye.
And Lam Ching Ying's two brief appearances don't hurt, although they don't really fit into the story.

End of good news.

This film turns a great deal on humiliating the women characters. Amy is kicked and has her boobs repeatedly trodden on by Wu Ma (playing a rare role as a very nasty villain). A group of women are caged and repeatedly sprayed with hoses until they agree to be work as whores. One of these women, who brags about being a hardened whore, is brutally raped, in a scene which parodies Last Tango In Paris.
While it's true that the subject matter is pretty grim and concerns exploitation of women, this hardly justifies the obvious joy with which this humiliation is dwelt upon.

If this appears to show the film as more good than bad, then the impression is misleading. On balance, this film is just so-so, and hard to watch for much of the time.
Reviewer Score: 4