Don't Call Me Gigolo (1993)

Directed by: Ma Tin
Written by: ?
Producer: Lai Joi-Song
Starring: Stuart Ong, Tsui Man-Wah, Ku Feng, Chan Ting, Shum Wai & Charlie Cho

Arriving from the country to visit his friend Tom in the city, Shang Wen Ha (Stuart Ong) is struck by a car driven by Chung (Tsui Man-Wah - Temptation Summary II). Going their separate ways for a bit, eventually Shang is offered to join the stable of gigolo's run by Ku Feng's character. Resistant to the idea but lured in by the prospect of money, one of his customers happen to be Chung and a romantic connection is made. Desperate to earn more money since his father is sick, Shang has to deal with the dangerous world of loan sharks now...

Part of the 1993 output of softcore erotica that wasn't about trying but being there in a relevant place, during a relevant time and with relevant product, there was still some hope since Ma Tin crafted a shameless Untold Story rip off (The Unpublicizable File) the same year. No inspiration rears its head as he now turns to the template of the gigolo-story.

Lazier than lazy, Don't Call Me Gigolo could easily be described as a little film. Meaning it has very little to offer but also merely a tiny framework it's trying stretch out over 90 minutes. Therefore sexual padding begins early with a plain, common looking shower scene with zero context but what feels like a 100 decibel saxophone soundtrack layered over it. At least it's not depressing looking but it's an indicator of things not going right. Merely dipping into story elements here and there such as Charlie Cho's debt and being in no hurry to get Stuart Ong into the profession in the title, Ma Tin shows disinterest all across the board. Not even amping the aura of danger when Ong is forced into borrowing money (because the background score is upbeat!), we finally do get some true sensuality mid movie as Ong and Tsui Man-Wah's shared passion (although he is passed out partly) is felt to a minor degree.

As for building on this romantically, the beats are standard melodramatic ones as the relationship is threatened by family issues and in the end loan sharks with homicide on their minds. With no engagement in core romance and a low budget frame that inspires no one, Ma Tin definitely doesn't earn the shift into bleakness either. Misguided, desperate but really lacking in interest from conception to final product, it's amazing to think certain filmmakers thought this would be enough to earn them some. Blame the filmmakers, not the actual talented performers.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson