Review: True Women for Sale – Sing kung chok tse yee: Ngor but mai sun, ngor mai chi gung (2008)


Directed by: Herman Yau | 90 minutes | drama | Actors: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Mei-Guan Lau, Race Wong, Sammy Leung, Yung Yung Yu

Prostitution has been a recurring theme in China and Hong Kong cinema, from the first film about it ‘The Goddess’ in 1934 to the recent ‘True Women for Sale’, the subject has been used to denounce social injustice . The female body is seen in these films as a symbol of the nation and so contamination of this body says something about the state of the country. The theme of prostitution is a way of presenting an ethical view of social changes that discontinue and reorder society. This also puts existing visions on a moral level into question again. The dangers that threaten society are usually related to westernization and capitalization of society.

True Women for Sale deals with an outgrowth of this, namely the importation of young Chinese girls from mainland China who, as a kind of “Russian bride”, marry men from Hong Kong for payment. This does not always go well and sometimes these women get into trouble due to circumstances, they subsequently become second-class citizens and end up in prostitution. ‘True Women for Sale’ is about two women, one of which is a young woman from China whose husband from Hong Kong has an accident in the construction industry. She is left with a child and, expecting twins, tries to survive in a world that is not really open to people in need from China. The second storyline is about a Hong Kong prostitute who lives with the first woman in the flat, is on drugs and saving money for new teeth and has to compete with a new influx of prostitutes from the mainland. Their lives are not the same, but both women try to survive in their own way.

Hong Kong cinema is currently overshadowed by the here successful South Korean cinema, of which a large number of films are very successful in the Western arthouse circuit. Apart from the films of a few famous directors, such as those of Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong films lag behind those from South Korea, and that is not surprising. The often somewhat calm and contemplative distant tone of these films is more in line with what we are used to in the West, barring all other idiosyncrasies. Hong Kong films are often more difficult to place because different genres are regularly combined with each other to create a typical Hong Kong mix of humor, tension and drama.

For example, ‘True Women for Sale’ deals with a very heavy theme in a fairly light-hearted way with a hint of Hong Kong cosiness. We already notice this in the almost random combination of songs in the soundtrack: from a mystical Eastern opening track to a Chinese pop song and then again dramatic orchestral music. Or, for example, in the funny montage where an insurance agent, played by permanent employee Anthony Wong, looks at everyone he meets in his estimated premium for a life insurance policy: the image is discontinued and the character becomes detached from the background, appearing next to him in text his profession. and estimated value. ‘True Women for Sale’ is a film that, just like the hurried life in Hong Kong, is smooth, sometimes a bit sloppy, has been put together and gives the viewer an interesting picture of the everyday worries of the underclass of society without being overloaded. Unlike Chinese cinema, the heroines in Hong Kong films do not necessarily end tragically. After the necessary drama, the storylines of the different characters are tied together and we get an ending that is happy enough for the audience from this former British crown colony.

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