Bringing the horror (Possessed) and sleazy in 1983, David Lai and writer George Ma thinks very little of the world and its men, forcing us to to also re-think whether the events on screen are as sexy as the first few frames of certain sequences may feel. It's a fairly clever and even uncomfortable watch, made even more so when viewed on the Joy Sales dvd that adds approximately 6 minutes of nudity and drug use compared to the vcd representing the cinema print.
Singer Wendy Yamazaki (Japanese TV- and film actress, including in pink films, Shindo Emi) comes to Hong Kong for a contest and is immediately eyed by the males. One is old flame Charlie (Michael Chan), the other is wealthy Francis Chao (Kenneth Tsang) who's made Wendy his target and will not take no for an answer. And he's got crew like reporter Ginger (Lily Chan) and Mr. Fung (Ga Lun) behind him to lure in and degrade Wendy and possibly her sister Chie (Oda Kaoru)...
It's comforting to know the explicit material was in the vaults as compared to the cinema version, we're really dealing with a tamed descent into the seedy and unfair when viewed on vcd. However David Lai's (also the co-director of Saviour of The Soul, Runaway Blues etc) journey starting with groovy times in Japan before Hong Kong quickly reveals its true colours at least for a few key persons in society is more valid when this extensively adult as we're in two minds about the steam on display that mixes in unpleasant degradation. Really it seems no males have a single piece of good nature in them, even Michael Chan presents a discomfort from Wendy's perspective and he IS somewhat forceful when re-pursuing Wendy now that they meet again. But thankfully he does represent the sole light, even though characters are going to be inflicted with darkness. Surprisingly the sister's side stories and exploit in steamy sex (the gym scene as goofy and suggestive as it is is a sexy piece of work especially uncut) and drugs represents less darkness and danger as her carefree attitude actually makes her go unharmed but it's a thin balance I suppose and the evil and even career-whores of this world will trip you over and your loved ones. The Hong Kong women, represented by Lily Chan's Ginger, play along with the sex-crazy, drug-infused world simply put.
David Lai's frame doesn't seem very threatening as he doesn't lay it on thick with music or visual touches and while it doesn't automatically send chills down your spine therefore, The Body Is Willing is playing it more realistic though, sending characters through hell behind closed doors but nothing is lit in darkness or blue for effect. No even the scene showing the punishment Wendy gets for rejecting Chao that subsequently involves her going crazy with sexual pleasure (including with a big champagne bottle) after being forcefed drugs is not terrifying, just uncomfortable despite the forced, uncontrollable PLEASURE that is in Wendy here. Steam- and degradation factor that scars characters and it makes us exploitation fans question the validity of going as explicit on us as Lai does. But thankfully he does and we're engaged and concerned in what may be a huge or even loose comment on 1983 but the effect is undeniable, daring and in your face. Cinema audiences presumably never got a chance to figure that out.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson