Monday, November 15, 2010

Summer Heat (1968) with Jenny Hu

Opening with scenes of rich kids partying in 1968 Hong Kong, Summer Heat (1968) introduces lead Chin Han as David and Yang Fan, from 1969's Torrent of Desire, as his younger brother Zhu Xiao Chun. Within minutes, as David returns a boat he "borrowed" from the previous night's shenanigans, Zhu Xiao Chun is smitten with rich girl Jenny Hu.

You can see where this drama is headed, right?

So "good" younger brother Xiao Chun gets increasingly all mixed up with "bad" older brother David and starts to romance the pretty Judy (Jenny Hu).

With the amount of beach and boating activity in Summer Heat, the film starts to feel like something Frankie Avalon should show up in. But, no, this film is a drama and the comedy is largely unintentional.

When the guy brings Judy to a party to meet his friends, the music literally stops as the guys all stand gaping at the overdressed and elegant Jenny Hu.

It's a bit silly but most teen films of this era -- HK-made or otherwise -- were.

Still, in a bit of drama, Judy is revealed to not be all she appears. The arrival of Chin Feng complicates things a bit too.

[Spoilers]

Okay, there's nothing funny about rape but the rape scenes in this film are funny in an unintentional way. First, Chin Han forces himself on Jenny Hu and then later he does it again -- even climbing in her window like the Wolfman or Dracula.

There's the typical 1960s shot of the woman's hand on the man's back as she struggles, the hand finally going limp when she "gives in" to the guy.

It's all so dated and offensive that it is just ridiculous; Jenny Hu is like a toy that the guys are playing with, all while Yang Fan keeps his love for the girl alive.

You know, I understand the era and all that -- the needs of the melodrama -- but sometimes something transcends its era's own ignorance with the level of absurdity on display.

It's not so much that Jenny Hu is not a sympathetic victim but, rather, that she is just a weepy rag doll in this film who exists only to be abused or suffer.

Despite all of that nonsense, she looks fantastic here.

By the third time that Chin Han literally carries Jenny Hu away to ravage her, the viewer is not so much filled with suspense or concern for her as laughter at her lack of even attempting to fight off her attacker, or avoid him since she knows her regular rapist.

On the 4th (!) attack, as his speedboat soars off without anyone at the wheel, Chin Han and Jenny Hu are on the floor, with the guy professing his love for the girl.

It's even odder that each attack cuts to Chin Han smoking a cigarette afterward with Jenny Hu looking used up next to him.

AND the girl is married already and hasn't told nice guy Yang Fan.

Summer Heat is one of the most ridiculous Shaw Brothers films of this era and bits of this nonsense would produce howls of laughter in any modern theater audience.

I watched Summer Heat on VCD but you can order it on DVD here.

But I wouldn't recommend it.