Girls in the Hood (1995)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2001-06-24
Summary: Surprisingly watchable
This film was only half of what I expected. Cheap exploitative porn trash ? Well, yes and no.

I don't live in HK, so I can't comment on how accurate or otherwise is the portrayal of the "no-bath" girls who hang around the Cultural Centre waiting to be picked up. There is undeniably a lot of gritty realism in this film, and some of it is very confronting. The scene near the end where a mainland girl is drugged and incited to strip was at once hard to watch, believable and compelling. But there are also elements of fantasy. I'm pretty sure the portrayal of more than one of these girls, particularly the one who glories under the nickname of Brainless, as raving sex-hungry maniacs is purely a product of the writer's imagination. That said, the lead characters remind me strongly of a few loudmouthed and slutty girls I went to school with.

This odd combination of realism and fantasy, presented as docu-drama, and played as melodramatic soap opera, makes the package look rather like a template for Young And Dangerous, or perhaps more accurately, for Sexy And Dangerous.

An exploitative film ? Well, yes, but not nearly as much as one would expect, or even want ! As far as nudity goes, there are quite a few flashes of tit, as well as an extended topless scene near the end. Three of the four main chars are pictured in full nude, but are never shown full frontal. I found this particularly puzzling, as they are all virtually unknown actresses, and I'd have thought the producers would have milked them to the max. Perhaps they were trying for subtle understatement ? Just joking.

So, does it earn the Cat III rating ? Definitely. There are a number of strong sex scenes, and these are the only scenes where the girls appear fully nude. There is an incredible level of foul language. I've not seen any other HK film which has so many bleeps over the dialogue ! Whatever word is used for "screw" is consistently bleeped and is used as every second word in a song which the girls sing at one point. Godsakes, James Wong's vulgar ravings look tame compared with this lot.

The main characters are a strong-minded and assertive lot, and are watchable if only for being strong characters. Not that they always win but, when picked on, they always fight back. And not always physically. Despiter her name, Brainless is notionally the brains and the leader of the group, and she is a terrific schemer.

Just a few words about the songs and music. Lovely ! Especially the end theme. Sounds like Sally Yeh singing, but her name isn't in the end credits.

Would I recommend this film ? I was surprised how watchable it was, and how fast the time went. This is very much against how I perceive the average cheap porn, where the time usually drags. Several things make the difference, not the least of which is the surprisingly (there's that word AGAIN) good and believable performances, including by an older actress who plays the flower woman.

So, yes, a recommendation, especially if you can get around prejudices of what you'd expect it to be like. But you have been warned of what to expect.
Reviewer Score: 8