Reviewed by: ewaffle
Summary: A bit different than expected
The 1997 Category III version of Romance of the West Chamber is surprising because unlike most of its kind there is the basis for a real movie beneath the heavy breathing. While it is certainly a wank-worthy undertakingboth female leads are talented pornographic performers: quite attractive, almost convincing during simulated sex (solo or with a partner) and willing to work hard. Geung Ga-Ling, who plays Hung the scheming but good hearted servant, looks a bit off in a few of the Category III scenes because no matter what she is doing she keeps her toes pointed. This is generally good advice since it seems to extend ones legs and keeps the appropriate muscles taut but was hard to ignore once I noticed it.
Reviewer Score: 4
There are the usual Category III themes: women are afraid of sex until they have it and then are insatiable, even if the first time was a rape; what is arousing for menespecially touching a womans breastsis equally arousing for a woman; only young and beautiful people (or Elvis Tsui) have sex. The structure of the story that supports the sexy cavorting could be (and has been) the basis for a realor at least not Category IIIfilm. The palace/monastery is in danger of being overrun by a large group of bandits who demand that Ann-Ann, the princess, be surrendered to them as the price of their leaving. Hung the wily servant who is really the brains behind the entire operation suggests that if someone can defeat the besiegers that he be rewarded with Ann-Anns hand in marriage and become the heir. How this differs from being handed over to the bandits isnt discussed although Ann-Ann doesnt have a choice either way. She is simply a prize for which male wins the battle.
Cheng, a young scholar on his way to Beijing, has stopped at the palace/monasteryterrible timing arriving about twelve hours before the bad guys surround the placehappens to know General Whitehorse whose troops are encamped nearby. A young man is tasked with sneaking through the bandits lines to get word to the general. It turns out that she is a young woman pretending to be a man so she can stay at the monastery part of the compound which allows another sex scene involving an actress other than the two leads. She is captured and raped but keeps her wits about her during her ordeal and kills her attacker. She also apparently gets through to the general who arrives, slaughters the bandits and leaves. While it would make sense for General Whitehorse to be the savior and therefore the bridegroom in the wedding, the logic of the film dictates that it is Cheng.
The prime ministers wife (Old Madam) then reneges on the deal, telling Cheng that since he is a commoner he cant marry Ann-Ann and should be happy with being allowed to stay at the palace/monastery. He isnt but Hung maneuvers everyone so that Cheng and the princess wind up in bed. When this is discovered the prime ministers wife is about to administer a beating but the silver-tongued Hung not only convinces her to spare the rod but also that it was Old Madams fault. A compromise is reached; Cheng is sent to the capital to take the exams. If he passes and wins an office he gets to return and marry the princess. If he doesnt pass then he should just keep going.
He passes with highest honors but his letter about the success arrives at the same time as Ann-Anns noble suitor who had been away taxing farmers or whipping peasants. Enter Chunto, played by Teresa Mak, whose presence is the only reason I watched this film. She is a scheming bitch, likes to gossip and is eager to hurt those around her. She must drown puppies for fun, since she is simply mean for the sake of being mean. She comes up with the not very clever idea of spreading the word that Cheng has not only won a high office but has married a daughter of a very powerful noble. So the wedding will go on but with a substitute bridegroomthey just need to get it performed and consummated before Cheng arrives from the capital. They dontHung foils thatand Cheng shows up, tells the gathered family that he hasnt married anyone and so wins Ann-Ann.
So in addition to the sex scenes Romance of the West Chamber has class conflict, dynastic troubles, a rousing battle scene, scheming servants, depraved bandits and stupid nobles. Which doesnt make it any better than other Category III raunch-fests but makes it a bit different than others.
Elvis Tsui is barely in the movie--he gets things in motion in the beginning and then comes back to stand around and be amazed at the goings-on toward the end. Teresa Mak has two good scenes when she is trying to derail the marriage of Ann-Ann with Cheng. Otherwise she just walks on occasionally to tell the prime minister's wife something.
Reviewed by: STSH
Summary: Pretty awful
Quite disappointing. I was expecting at least a lushly photographed period porn with lots of skin, especially since this movie shares some of the same actors as EGS-Perfect Match.
Reviewer Score: 2
But alas, the production values appear to be much lower here. The film seems to have been shot at nearly video quality, which means that seeing it on the big screen is likely to be about as good as a video (terrible shame).
Some riveting dialogue : "I know you're kill".
And the acting, gawd. The word that comes to mind is "stagey". Exaggerated movements and mostly slow delivery of lines make it appear to be a photographed stage play. God, it was painful to watch even the normally-good-value Tsui Kam Kong manage not much at all.
Judging by the number of previous versions, this is a classic and popular love story. The plot details left me a little puzzled, with repeated references to "antithesis" and "the culprits".
The sex/love scenes beginning near the one-hour mark were quite good, even a little erotic, but is was too little to late.
Watch Erotic Ghost Story II again instead !