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  Girl with the Long Hair Temptress with the tresses
Year: 1975
Director: Ho Fan
Stars: Dana, Mi Lan, Frankie Wei, Yu Yang, Terry Liu
Genre: Comedy, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Holidaying at the luxurious coastal resort of Pattaya in Thailand, dorky Hong Kong businessman Richard Li (Frankie Wei) finds himself surrounded by beach babes and bikini girls. By chance he runs into his old friend Bai Lanshi (Yu Yan), who introduces his current squeeze, the scatty Annie (Mi Lan). Living it up at this “paradise for men”, Bai is eager to help him sample the swinging bachelor lifestyle, but Richard remains at the beck and call of his demanding, blind wife Jiali (Terry Liu). The couple’s attempts at romance are curtailed by a constant stream of interruptions. Into his life breezes suntanned sex goddess Dana (Shaw Bros’ top steamy starlet, playing herself). Bored with her slobby gangster boyfriend, she flaunts herself before the smitten Richard, who resolves to bed her any way he can…

Somehow it’s reassuring to know certain genres transcend national boundaries. So it is with the sex comedy. Although primarily known for period martial arts epics, Hong Kong movie moguls the Shaw Brothers cranked out their fare share of softcore romps, none too dissimilar plot-wise from those made in Italy, Germany or the UK. If Girl with the Long Hair is remembered for anything, it’s for gorgeous, pouting Dana (real name: Tsen Shu Yi). Whether lounging, bikini clad atop a beachside rock, teasing Richard with her naked samba behind a locked patio door, or gyrating nude beneath a red veil in a strikingly shot dream sequence, she certainly steams up the screen.

Co-star Terry Liu also disrobes frequently for some fairly explicit sex scenes. She and Dana were sexploitation regulars and previously paired in Shaw Brothers’ cult superhero actioner, Super Infra-Man (1975). Both ended their careers appearing in Bruce Lee exploitation movies: Dana in Bruce Lee in New Guinea (1978) and Liu portraying international sexpot Emmanuelle in The Dragon Lives Again (1976).

Yet aside from naked Dana, this is a fairly dull, conventional sex comedy. A lazy plot slings various obstacles, from nosy waiters and a randy American granny to Dana’s impregnable chastity belt, that conspire to prevent Richard getting laid. When he finally does spend the night with Dana, the camerawork by actor-turned-erotic photographer and filmmaker Ho Fan (who ironically played the chaste monk Tripitaka in The Monkey Goes West (1964) and its sequels) goes into overdrive. He lingers dreamily over every inch of her suntanned curves, artfully rendering a supposedly mind-blowing shag of a lifetime, until a predictable plot twist undercuts the erotic frisson. The film dwells more on sexual frustration than sex, with characters either unable to get it up or get any at all.

Shot on location in Pattaya, Fan unwisely confines the action to the holiday resort, neglecting the local scenery. Fan won an award at Cannes for his experimental short Mi (1970), before becoming the go-to guy for stylish erotica with Adventure in Denmark (1973) and later, Temptation Summary (1990), the first Category III movie to gross more than HK $10 million. His films are often artfully shot. Doubling as cinematographer, Fan here experiments bathing lovers in orange sunsets or reflected in a pair of sunglasses, and stages a surreal swingers’ party like something out of a Jess Franco movie. Full of drug-addled hippies, naked girls trussed up in nets and mystery guests in monster masks, while Dana surveys the weirdness, quaffing wine from an enormous crimson glass. However, having been restored from variable source materials, the picture quality fluctuates compared to other restoration jobs from Celestial DVD. Especially a scene where Richard and Bai go skinny dipping with a bunch of sexy models who then steal their clothes.

Leading man Frankie Wei is your typical sex comedy hero, a luckless loser who, post coital union with Dana, transforms into a love stallion to show those frisky fashion models he’s a “real man” after all. If that sounds unlikely, well the plot twist explains why. Earlier in his career the actor appeared in costume dramas and swordplay movies under the stage names Xiao Lin and Wu Bin, then adopted a third for his roles in Shaw Brothers softcore romps including Oriental Playgirls (1976), Starlets for Sale (1977), and their like. He also directed the oddball sexploitation-horror Lewd Lizard (1979), outlined in greater length in Pete Tombs' classic book: Mondo Macabro.

After ninety minutes spent ogling Dana, the film gets all moral on us and delivers a far from convincing message about staying on the straight and narrow. To further underline the point a supporting character has his genitals impaled on a statue of Cupid. Ouch. Features a shagadelic score from Frankie Chan.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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