Can't be stuck in the grungy, smutty 90s always, time to look at sleaze courtesy of a big block boy in the form of Shaw Brothers. No strangers to making extreme exploitation, dipping their toes into horror, Women In Prison films and erotica, in the director's chair we find the often mentioned, on this site at least, Ho Fan. Initially an acclaimed photographer, he subsequently moved behind the scenes and acting (playing Monk Tang in Shaw's epic Journey To The West adaptation that covered 4 movies), when it came to debuting in the directing chair he might've dabbled in varied genres across studios such as Goldig and Golden Harvest but it was Shaw Brothers that afforded him the opportunity to start developing his directorial persona. As an erotica director specifically and while he later came into his own via Yu Pui Tsuen in 1986, 1975's Girl With The Long Hair is a signature movie. Also creating classic, long lasting celluloid via his female lead, the previously unknown Dana (Chinese name Shum Shuk-Yee), Ho Fan delivers comedic shtick while portraying the male weak race like the horny, uncontrollable dogs they are. It doesn't feel as much as exploitation therefore but clearly, the long lasting image of Dana is there for the boys to enjoy. Unbalanced, improper, dubious moral of the story and an accomplished visual package, OF COURSE Girl With The Long Hair is a signature movie!
On vacation in Thailand, millionaire Richard (Wai Wang - Shaw veteran and co-director of his own, crazy exploitation flick, Lewd Lizard) leads his blind wife Jiali (Terry Liu - Bamboo House Of Dolls) but is mesmerized by the arrival of Danna (Dana, always accompanied by her own theme music). Desperate to get near her, player friend Bai Lianshi (Henry Yu) may have the experience to get it all done under the radar of the unknowing wife...
It's not deep material and not a little illogical but Ho Fan is there to create an incredibly fun atmosphere where really the males are the dopes of the flick, the women devils (not in a bad way) and cunning in a way that will only expose males for the idiots that they are... and I know... I AM one. Better film scholars will clearly feel a touch of European cinema visually and on the soundtrack (and Ho Fan certainly made that evident much later when being the executive producer on 7 Days In Paris) and he's clever by teasing us of Dana's glorious presence by covering her up with the title card initially! Karma-wise you wonder where Richard is really going to land when it's revealed he'd rather throw his BLIND wife to the wayside in favour of sex and amidst the popping colours and the clever compositions, you do really start to wonder if Danna is in fact the devil in disguise. Showing up unexpectedly, perfectly lit, radiant, sexy, in sex dungeons and even having red light bulbs in her hotel room seemingly, it NEVER takes away from the fact that males are silly dopes... none better represented by Wai Wang's energy.
The timid, easily persuaded Richard does have a sexually open wife (it's Terry Liu for heaven's sake too!) so further lack of sympathy should be directed towards him but rarely does it feel like he's getting any rewards. Obsession doesn't lead much places, other than into scenarios that might merely be dreams or frightfully real. Running around to represent the horny male, being the focus of inspired erection jokes, having to deal with taunts from his friends about NOT cheating and fighting off the chastity belt of Danna's, Richard has no shame (and neither does actor Wai Wang thankfully). Especially not when the male pride is challenged later in the film and we get evidence of how low one can sink. IF it's all real that is.
Ho Fan shows great confidence in the farce area (one of the sex scenes merely shows the feet of Wai and Dana!) but mainly in the visual area where his sense of imagery is actually put to playful and gorgeous use. It's art for sure but art with less pretentious purpose than you'd might think. The architecture and colours of the hotel provide their own inspiration but it's really in the latter stages where he and infrequent cinematographer Chan Chiu-Yung seriously punches in! The sex dungeon is a particularly great example of in camera solutions being done to enhance mood and Dana in her all red hotel room with Wai Wang clawing from the outside to get in is just one of a million examples of Ho Fan feeling inspired when shooting her. Effectively also teasing the audience that she may or may not be photographed nude, it's an effective way of making the audience be exactly like Richard. You're all exposed! And I was. The downside to Girl With The Long Hair after its strong balance as a fun, erotic product and a piece of exploitation is that it doesn't really make Richard pay the price for indecent thoughts and acts. The dubious moral could've been wrapped up more effectively but somewhere in there you put yourself into the train of thoughts that he's being watched and if potentially tripping over again, he's done for, signed and punched out.
Ho Fan and crew made sure to put a firm signature on this wonderful piece of sexy work and Girl With The Long Hair is a sexy, playful treasure where dopey behaviour and sexy images could've come off as so much cheaper. Instead, here's a pure Shaw Brothers touch by a filmmaker knowing early what his calling was and the touch was provided for an additional 2 decades.
The DVD (IVL):
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0.
Subtitles: English, traditional Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia
* Newly created trailers for Sexy Girls Of Denmark, The Bamboo House Of Dolls, The Sexy Killer, Women Of Desire and Girl With The Long Hair (sadly no original included).
* Movie Information section holds:
Photo Gallery (10 Behind The Scenes, 10 Movie Stills) - Some truly awesome black and white photography from the set in the former category.
Image of the original, classic poster, production notes (merely the blurb from the back of the dvd) and fairly informative biographies/filmographies (in Chinese and English) for Dana, Wai Wang, Terry Liu and Ho Fan.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson