Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Diary Of A Lady-Killer with Chin Han

After an opening credits sequence featuring some topless Shaw starlets, Diary of a Lady-Killer (1969) begins.

Following the suicide of a young typist at the East Insurance Company, an informal investigation is begun into the lifestyle of manager Zhou Guoxiong (Chin Han). The guy is an inveterate playboy it seems and girlfriend (?) Xiulan (Fang Ying) may become the guy's latest conquest.

After she won't let him take her to a motel for the night, he sets his sights on Fanny Fan after seeing her in a local bowling alley. For you Fanny Fan fans out there, it's worth noting that the topless shower scenes are a bit of a surprise.

Then it's back to work for Zhou and his coworker Li Donghai (Ng Fung)

Soon, Zhou is practically stalking Margaret Tu-Chuan at a movie theater. The couple go to see a Japanese film and there's a clip of it here. I'm guessing it's something associated with director Koh Nakahira. Unlike his contemporary Umetsugu Inoue, Koh Nakahira did take a Chinese psuedonym -- Yang Shu-Hsi -- when he went to work for the Shaws. Unlike Inoue, he didn't make that many movies for them and returned instead to Japan to continue in the film business.

It's worth noting that, for whatever reason, Margaret Tu-Chuan looks old here. The close-ups don't favour her as she looks like she's wearing a ton of make-up. The actress was still lovely and here she is playing less of a vamp than usual which is a surprise given the somewhat tawdry nature of the plot of this thing.

Seems that nice girl Xiulan is about to go back to Japan to study but Zhou is not letting up on her. After he practically jumped her in the car on the way to that hotel earlier on, it's a bit of a surprise that she's still giving the guy any chances at all.

[Possible Spoilers Begin]

Okay, so Xiulan finds Zhou's diary -- conveniently titled "Diary of a Lady-Killer (!) -- in his room as the bodies pile up. Naturally, the sexual predator is now a suspect.

At the very same moment that he figures out that there are murders going on, he discovers that Xiulan -- or someone else -- has taken his diary and as he is literally hoping the police don't come in, they come in to arrest him and put him on trial.

After a sham trial, the lawyer for Zhou takes on the case of appeal and it's then that the film turns into a series of flashbacks of Zhou's other conquests including Helena Ma and Shirley Wong.

It's not much of a secret when the real killer is revealed. I'm not going to spoil the film further except to say that the list of possible suspects was fairly narrow once Zhou had his little freakout and it was clear that he was not a literal lady-killer.

[Possible Spoilers End]

Diary of a Lady-Killer is a problematic film in that it never decides whether it's an exploitation film or a murder mystery. The bigger problem is that it fails to be a good example of either one of those two genres.

Still, if you want to see a few Shaw starlets in their prime, then this film might work for you.

I just noticed that Brian has a good review of the film here.

Unfortunately, Diary of a Lady-Killer (1969) is out-of-print on DVD and VCD at the moment. If you can find it in a shop -- like I did -- it's probably worth snagging just to see the Shaw Brothers starlets, particularly Fanny Fan.