Friday, December 10, 2010

Linda Lin Dai Week: The Last Woman of Shang (1964)

For more on Linda Lin Dai, check out duriandave's Soft Film blog. For a short biography of Linda Lin Dai, check out this site.

Released just 30 days after her suicide, The Last Woman of Shang (1963) is another Linda Lin Dai historical epic, not so much huangmeixi as a romance rooted in Chinese history.

Na Kong-Yuan is the son of one viscount and he's smitten with Linda Lin Dai's character. Too bad that viscount is an enemy to the other viscount (Cheung Kwong-Chiu).

So there's big budget -- for 1963 -- bloodshed as the kingdoms fight and Linda Lin Dai's Su Da Ji contemplates suicide after the death of her father (Tien Feng).

Pat Ting Hung is there to provide support to the distraught girl.

Su Da Ji plots her revenge against the emperor (Shin Yeong-Gyun from 1967's The King With My Face).

She attempts to place herself near the enemy emperor with a goal, apparently, of seducing him in order to get a chance to assassinate him.

Taking a bath and revealing a bit of skin doesn't hurt either as now the emperor is thoroughly smitten with Linda Lin Dai.

When she shows up in a sheer robe to present herself to the guy, he's even more crazed with lust.

There's more court intrigue and the viewer is left biding his or her time until Linda Lin Dai's character gets her final revenge.

Meanwhile, that other viscount's son from the beginning of the film is sent to the same court to kill Su Da Ji since she's now the wife of the enemy emperor.

I'm not going to get into the plot points of The Last Woman of Shang (1963) any further because they are frequently ridiculous and over-the-top in spots -- eating the flesh of your enemies? did I read those subtitles right?

And I won't spoil the ending except to say 1) I felt cheated and 2) it's like they ran out of film it ends so abruptly!

Anyway, how does this flick hold up for Linda Lin Dai fans?

Well, she's lovely and she's got a few really good dramatic scenes and a couple of quite sexy ones as well.

Still, the Linda Lin Dai here is not quite the one I loved so much in Les Belles (1960).

I almost felt sorry for Lin Dai as the near-nude scenes felt tacked on. Considering how long her career had been up until this point, it seems odd that a near-nude scene was something she felt she needed to do in 1963. Odder still that an established star of her caliber would be forced to do the scenes (assuming for a minute that they were not her idea).

The DVD has a 15-minute interview with writer Edward Lam on plays and the tradition of imperial palace films.

And there is also a 20-minute interview with Shaw Brothers actor Danny Lau.

You can order The Last Woman of Shang (1964) on DVD here.