Sunday, May 4, 2008

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan

Imagine my surprise in actually finding something I desperately wanted in a local Best Buy store!

As I learned the hard way over the last 5 years, the Celestial Region 3 Shaw Brothers reissues go out of print fast -- nay, almost immediately!

So last year when I was on my Lily Ho kick, I started buying all of the Shaw DVDs I could find containing this amazing star only to find that one of her biggest roles was a DVD that was out of print already.

1972's Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan is a wild, guilty pleasure -- not quite as raunchy as some of the other mid-1970s Shaw films I've seen but definitely a bit more daring than anything Cheng Pei Pei ever did.

Other experts have reviewed the film with more insight than I can provide so I'll just stick to this DVD.

The print is supposedly anamorphic widescreen. I watched most of my Shaws on my older, smaller TV, and not on my newish 40 inch widescreen monstrosity so the best I can say is that the picture is good but a bit blurry in one or two spots -- not sure if that was a technique in the film or the print -- but not enough to not recommend the film.

The film is presented in Mandarin with removable English subtitles, or in an English dub which I did not sample.

The extras are quite good; about 15 or so trailers for the other Shaws in the Image Library. And a 40-minute selection of trailers for other 1980s to 1990s Hong Kong films, some quite obscure, and none with English subtitles. That was a weird, nice treat.

There is a 12 minute featurette (produced for the French edition, I'm guessing from the credits) that has interviews with Lily Li (!), Shaw Yin Yin, and Candice Yu.

They discuss the film and the remake (Candice was in that) but Lily Li spends a good few minutes discussing Tropicana Interlude where she first worked with Lily Ho. As that film is now one of my favorite Shaw titles, I was quite happy.

All in all, a great disc for under $20 considering the Celestial Region 3 is long out-of-print; and the extras were certainly a very pleasant surprise.

For a review of Tropicana Interlude, check out Brian's which says it better than I could.

I, however, would give that film a much higher rating -- Lily Li was petulant and cute, Lily Ho ravishing, and the costumes, locales, and silly 1960s tunes made it a near masterpiece in my book -- like a Beach Party movie with Lily Ho instead of Annette Funicello!