The Fruit Is Swelling (1997)
Produced & directed by: Cash Chin
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In name only (in the Chinese title that is) sequel to the 1993 Rachel (or call her Loletta or Loretta if you like) Lee movie Crazy Love (aka The Fruit is Ripe and come to think of it, the English titles are pretty suitable if you give it a ponder or two) where the cute actress shed her clothes for the first time (1*) and the character looked for true love while encountering the crazy love (plus sex and horny characters) along the way. Partly a valid but simple-minded message was baked into the average pie but marketing pushed box office nicely over an above average tally for a Category III movie. So filmmaker Cash Chin, the little Category III truck that keeps on truckin' (2*), put Jane Chung (3*) NOT in the shoes of Rachel Lee because as expected, it is indeed a name only sequel that takes its own unique turns. Well... unique and unique... it is after all the adults only version of Big we're talking of here! Surely having demands placed on him but possessing the smarts to inject a tiny bit of story and message, Chin creates what is possibly more than what the demands were: a bearable film that never ever misses its cues working within the Category III rating. For better or worse.
Peach Chiu is 8 years old (played here by Maggie Wong) and jealous that her older sister Lychee (Christine Hung) gets to hang out with boys. Being an adult sure looks like the better deal so she asks the Sacred Tree her mom (Kingdom Yuen) prays at every morning to make her 18 years old. Along with her friend Fatty, the wish comes true and Peach sets out to discover the world. Along the way there's first romance with swimming teacher Danny (Jimmy Wong) and heartbreak while everyone around her is having casual sex like crazy...
By the sound of that plot synopsis, you indeed get the feeling that a checklist is being ticked off. You could also almost sense that there was someone behind the scenes saying that if you could get Shu Qi in the film, ticket sales will be boosted. Cue a Suq Qi opening and closing cameo for no reason whatsoever as she's barely our storyteller of the piece (the joke is that she's having trouble unearthing the moral of the story). It's totally shameless but overall The Fruit Is Swelling kind of does certain things with a wink at its audience. It structures itself as a cute, a bit melancholy coming of age story combined with ill logic of having the sex scenes play out like they do. Peach's parents (father is played by Elvis Tsui so you should know where this is heading...) are not the most responsible out there as they leave porno tapes out in the living room, porno tapes in the VCR so naturally some curiosity is triggered in Peach (I should state the film in regards to her character doesn't go down inappropriate, illegal routes as there's no sex scene involving her as the 8 year old in an 18 year old body. There are attempts however...). Peach turns out to be a smart kid though but one with that inner distress of wanting something that seems alluring. Lesson one looming. Maggie Wong is a very cute and expressive kid to embody all this and wrapped in bright cinematography, Cash Chin certainly presses the cute buttons in an appropriate way. That it's also a softcore porn flick structured around these lessons I think ultimately is, aside from commercial, a decision that is tongue in cheek nature.
Many developments and especially sex scenes are often totally out of place and ridiculous, adhering to a demand to feature x amount and to get the flick up over 90 minutes. This is the rule of the game partly and as is often the case, we get no particular high class erotica either. But having Elvis Tsui on board at least guarantees that the ludicrous works in the movie's favour. Picture this scene, Tsui's character has the police over as they think Peach is kidnapped but the flirty Mr. Chiu ends up in a wild refrigerator bonk-a-thon with a female police where whipped cream is a key ingredient to their little moment. A wonderful cap to the scene sees them both having loads of ants crawling over them post-sex.
That's not to say Cash Chin is that involved in the story beats for Peach's character. The way her environment reacts and the time it takes to react and accept that she's now an adult almost feels dedramatized to the point where it is indeed just a story checklist being ticked off. Thankfully in a way no one thinks they are making high art though and Chin is consciously jumbling contrasting elements around for his, producers own benefit and for commercial ones. In this world anyone can vomit, then get horny and have a 10 minute sex scene while the ongoing message is Peach finding out that life is a big lesson in joy and ache. It cements that someone probably pitched The Fruit Is Swelling with a cute message Category III-style! Even the final scene in the pool where Jane Chung (who's does a sufficient job acting cute as the girl trapped in a young woman's body) gets to experience that sexual joy when she's supposed too is clearly not done by a filmmaker wanting to push our melodramatic core. Cash Chin had his beats clear in his head, delivered on the promise of the premise but didn't take it down awful or awfully inappropriate routes so The Fruit Is Swelling turns out to be a cute, silly, illogical, very naked time. Just like they wanted.
The DVD (Mei Ah):
Video: 1.74:1 widescreen (non-anamorphic)
Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Bahasa.
Extras: None. Having said that, one sex scene involving the character of Baby (Stephanie Fong) utilizes the angle function of the dvd player so for a few minutes you can flick through 4 angles (one of which is the finished edit and others full, uninterrupted takes) of that scene.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
(1) She hasn't bounced back from that Shu Qi-style but she had a very good streak of fan appreciation, at least from the West via appearances in Sexy And Dangerous, Once Upon A Time In Triad Society (both vehicles acting against Francis Ng), Bloody Friday and her greatest leap towards critic appreciation came when appearing in Ann Hui's award-winning Ordinary Heroes in 1999. Newcomer director Derek Kwok also put her in his debut The Pye-Dog (2007).
(2) He saw no problem creating Category III movies during the trend in the first half of the 90s but during post-trend as well. He gave us the wonderful The Eternal Evil Of Asia in 1995, Naked Poison in 2000 and his two part, albeit low budget, adaptation of the classical Chinese 100 chapter novel Jin Ping Mei The Forbidden Legend Sex & Chopsticks hit cinemas in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Respect Cash!
(2) Jane had a shortlived but very nude career during 1997/98 with prominent on-screen duty in Sex & Zen III and Raped By An Angel 2: The Uniform Fan.