Breaking through big time often means a desire by filmmakers and producers to expose and even overexpose as audiences will go and see a movie based on star appeal. Actress Lu Hsiao-Fen therefore got busy and stayed busy after On The Society File Of Shanghai and often with Yung Sheng Film Company in movies such as Crazy Youth, Pink Thief, The Anger and here in The Sexy Lady Driver. Veering away from the grim social realism of said debut and breakthrough in most movies in the years that followed, in writer-director Chang Yung-Shiang's hands we get a rare look at a transparent and very rushed product starring the icon. Largely light and skit-like in nature, nevertheless there are enjoyable positives to extract from this flimsy time. Mostly involving Lu Hsiao-Fen.
After failing at various jobs, Chao Mu-Lan (Lu Hsiao-Fen) gets one as a taxi driver in order to support her family. With a strong head and temper, she manages to encounter the best and worst in society but build up good karma through helping old grannies and most importantly a rich business man (Lam Joi-Pau. Hsiao-Fen's co-star in The Anger) from a car crash...
Clear is that we're dealing with a broader movie and a loud comedy, something Lu Hsiao-Fen isn't showing confidence in initially as Mu-Lan is more about being a comic exaggeration. Where the enjoyable nature sporadically comes in is via the other main trait of Mu-Lan's. Namely that she will voice dissatisfaction about injustices, being ill-treated (leading to taking judo lessons) and the courage (even if irrational) is there as the attitude is too. What the journey through various skits and encounters with passengers such as Christopher Doyle's flirting westerner, thugs, potential robbers, people having sex in the cab while stopping a suicide and getting her sister out of a prostitution ring ultimately means is very little though.
The Sexy Lady Driver exists for Lu Hsiao-Fen and her audience and even though no creative challenge is here, she responds to the spirit and comic nature (some of which works and is timed well) of Mu-Lan. The bare thread is predictable (although the good but loud nature of Mu-Lan is a thoughtful aspect) but there's star power here, a sexiness that no one involved feel shouldn't be highlighted. Whether it made people flock to the cinema to see Hsiao-Fen evoke On The Society File Of Shanghai by faking a similar stabbing is up in the air but we also know she got to challenge herself creatively and dramatically once the commercial dust settled a little.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson