More current than ever at the time of writing thanks to director Edmond Pang (Men Suddenly In Black, Exodus) centering the plot of his 2012 comedy Vulgaria around the notion of remaking Confession Of A Concubine (aka I Want More...), the 1976 original helmed by lead Peter Yang and Chen Chi-Hwa (The 36 Crazy Fists, Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin) is truthfully a well costumed, flimsy excuse to feature wall to wall sex but what's there to complain about when it pleases audiences out for that basic to such a good degree.
Su San (Siu Yam-Yam, also in Vulgaria) is one of the newly trained concubines of the Chin Wa Pleasure House. Connecting to senior officer training Wang Chu Chung (Henry Yu), eventually she is taken away by merchant Ching (co-director Peter Yang) who will dominate her as per the rules and conditions of this dynasty. Will actual love get a chance to matter between the two that connected?
As meaningful as the plot sounds, Yang and Chen's film is at hanging on to a bare thread. Instead it engages a higher gear when it comes to the making and training of concubines as dictated by the times ruled by a lecherous emperor and where woman are there to please their dominating men. Upbeat. Not really. Downbeat, not truly but definitely goofy during its first few reels where our narrator tells us (and we see naturally) the various training involving dow and eggs in order for the women (whom they train from an early age and kids are briefly present but not during any explicit scenes) to be ready to receive and to give in the utmost perfect way. It's the training montage essentially, leading to the exam and the unlocking (literally) and deflowering (literally) of select concubines, mainly Siu Yam-Yam's Su San.
It's flirting with darkness of course, it makes sex clinical and women trained machines but mainly thanks to the English dub employing modern music that would not be a bad fit for Shaft, proceedings are actually made more snappy. We side with the repetition of a "Love me baby, make love to me" lyrical theme rather than the expected traditional Chinese flavoured score we've come to expect from movies before and since. It ain't Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan, nor does it have the tools to rival but the parade of exploitation elements (including rape of women AND men) and torture (including Tanny Tien getting a ride on the dreaded wooden mule as seen in Bosco Lam's 1994 Category III classic A Chinese Torture Chamber Story and pleasure-torture) makes Confession Of A Concubine indeed that amusing parade of agreeable elements for the crowd that agreed to tackle it. It may not earn its downbeat story elements but somehow it's part of said parade.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson