Monday, May 24, 2010

Gossip Street with Danny Lee

1974's Gossip Street is based on a TVB program of the time so my review might not add much to the discussion but here goes.

Following a nice opening sequence where the characters introduce themselves directly to the camera, the story proper begins. The main thread tying everything together seems to be Cheung Kwun-Min, an inveterate gambler whose vice leads to the breaking of promises to friends and neighbors.

For fans of Hong Kong cinema of the era, we've got Hong Kong legend Helena Law as an aging seductress who seems to annoy everyone in her building, including Danny Lee; Leung Tin as a Chinese opera singer past his prime; and Ricky Hui, as well as Ouyang Sha-Fei in the kind of role she could play in her sleep.

The story -- such as it is -- involves the local crime boss' son (or simply his main thug; I wasn't quite sure) and his involvement with a local servant girl and the boss' attempts to drive out the tenants of the main apartment building in Gossip Street.

The plot is really just an afterthought as the main point of the film is the interaction between the various characters on Gossip Street and the portrait of life in 1974 Hong Kong that the film is depicting.

There are some Godfather-parodies courtesy of a local businessman (Paang Paang from Shaw's Journey to the West cycle) and his attempts to sweet-talk the mob boss.

Hong Kong Cinemagic has a great photo of the entire ensemble cast with names and you can check that out here.

I think with a film like Gossip Street, I'm clearly out of my element and probably missing 50% of the film's appeal -- if not more due to a reliance on subtitles.

But, I consider my Hong Kong film viewing a 9+ year education -- an education that is still underway.

Given that, I can say that if you want to catch a glimpse of who was on TVB in 1974, and see them mingle with some of the Shaw film studios' main character actors of the time, then check out Gossip Street.

The film is a light comedy with nice production design and feels similar to 1973's The House of 72 Tenants in small ways.

You can order Gossip Street on DVD here.