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Ho Yuk - Let's Love Hong Kong

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/24/03 09:38:45

"Yet another lesbian movie that tries very hard to avoid lesbianism."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Good gosh, people. If I see one more movie that is supposed to open up lesbian filmmaking to new frontiers try to skirt the issue (no pun intended) by taking easy options, I may well scream. It seems the First Rule of Film Festival is don't go to see Asian low-budget digi-video art films. The Second Rule of Film Festival? Don't go to see Asian low-budget digi-video art films.

I honestly tried. I gave this movie every chance it could want, unlike many in the screening room who bailed early (a curious press screening practice that seems almost exclusive to the Vancouver Film Fest). I sat there and took it in and tried to decipher and I even cut it some slack because, heck, a low budget film is always going to be imperfect.

But man, Ho Yuk - Let's Love Hong Kong is not only hard to make it through, there doesn't seem any great point in doing so. And that seems to be what the filmmaker is aiming for.

No, correct that, the filmmaker is aiming to make a film about lesbians that breaks the mold of previous Hong Kong films about lesbians, most of whom are traditionally portrayed as being in the 'lipstick' category. If you took Hong Kong film as a reflection of real life, every lesbian on the island is a martial arts secret agent who uses her 'tang to complete confidential missions that save the world. And they generally dress like Neo.

Ho Yuk, to its credit, goes the other way. The main characters in this piece are three women in Hong Kong from different walks of life. One is Nicole (Colette Koo), a closet lesbian and a high flying executive that has to play out her fantasies at home, lusting over a girl on a porno website, for fear that someone will discover her secret passion.

That girl, Chan (Wong Chung-Ching), is living her own secret life, not telling anyone that she makes her living stripping in porn on the internet. So what's she to do when tomboy Zero (Erica Lam) decides they should be together and starts stalking her?

Well, she pretty much decides nothing. Nobody does. They follow each other around, have trouble finding a decent apartment, talk with people, wander, have a little sex, and continue on in this neverending circle of 'what if'.

And sure, that's what director Yau Ching was going for - a depiction of the struggle that modern day lesbians go through in Hong Kong, trying to gain a little acceptance and freedom to live their lives... only, rather than blast those doors wide open by being 'out, loud and proud', Ho Yuk seems to do as much to keep its underbelly under the covers as the characters do on screen.

Ho Yuk - Let's Love Hong Kong is playing at the Vancouver International Film Festival this month. Visit http://www.viff.org for more information, screening times and venues.

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