Temptation Summary II (1991)
Directed by: Ho Fan
Despite getting lead Lee Chung-Ling and writer Woo Yan back on board, this is no full on, further adventure of our Category III superman (because he does appear during the opening credits) from Ho Fan's first, lighthearted romp (rather than his gorgeous, serious erotica as is often the case with him). Sequel-time in name only then but Ho Fan isn't ready to go back to any period erotica in the vein of Yu Pui Tsuen. No, knowing himself well and the rating he usually works in, he tackles a multi-character, comedy-study set in and around the business of making Category III smut. It's not quite the fun insight Viva Erotica was and Temptation Summary II certainly has more amusing opportunities that it sets up rather than follows through on but enough naughty delights it does have.
Breaking the wild and acrobatic supersex-session with our Category III superman injuring his back, we're immediately thrown into the low-budget to no-budget world of adults only Hong Kong cinema. Having sex on screen in this way can be as dangerous as working on any kung-fu movie it's said and faced with a dilemma of being an artist or being commercial, director Fok Kin Yiu (Dennis Tang and say his character name a few more times to get the all so subtle joke) starts adhering to audiences demand by making fairly ambitious to eventually ultra-cheap skin flicks. The one thought of social influence of the rating now merely extends to notions of entertaining audiences and certainly we hear a Ho Fan speaking both truths he can agree with and he's clearly being frustrated as well. Temptation Summary II certainly isn't or intended to be a visual splendor in the vein of Ho Fan's previous work or a work of someone forced into catering to audiences demand only. It's too much fun to be the latter.
It ain't Magnolia or Short Cuts but Ho Fan brings in quite a hefty amount of characters surrounding the III. Main one being Lee Chung-Ling's cop Chi who hasn't gathered enough experience to go completely desensitized in his line of work. Going undercover to buy sex, he enters the "swimming sessions" of Mermaid (the character of Hwa Hwa played delightfully by Tsui Man-Wah, co star of Dances With Snakes) and discovers someone he's supposed to bust but has too much damn fun with. Eventually making sure she's not arrested, the two re-connect after a period of disinterest by Hwa Hwa whose main goal is to earn enough money to get a British passport. The center piece and couple whose journey's are not forgotten by Ho Fan (but others are), Lee has proven in I Love Miss Fox and the first Temptation Summary his knack for playing the dope, the crazy husband and the former trait works well with the timid, loving nature of the character of Chi here. Having splendid chemistry with Tsui Man-Wah, Ho Fan extends upon their diner bonding by zooming in onto an aquarium and off into a favourite land of his we are: Fantasy.
One of the few of those sequences that genuinely fits and works, there's little issues about the actors being naked as it's more about a bubbly romance growing and if that isn't taking us far away from exploitation, I don't know what is. Ho Fan has often known a little better than most directors he shared the III rating with. To top it all off, Hwa Hwa is a dedicated woman but has her dilemma of not being able to veer off her goal. Moral dilemmas continues to surface later as the couple are on different sides of the law still but the Chi/Hwa Hwa connection does get buried in naughty disinterest when the focus is not on them.
One of the background notions of the film is fame. Fame your way, fame the cheap way. Tracy (Lee Yuet-Sin) first teaches her sister Michelle that boys are full of crap and only after one thing while she later switches into a total fame prostitute that quickly becomes too big for her humble beginnings as a Category III starlet having been raped by evil Japanese soldiers in her first film "Fun Fun Sex" (who said these producers were sensitive?). The problem we have with Tracy/Michelle-angle is that it approaches filler the longer the film runs. Tracy's story is expected and Michelle is a meaningless background character in the end. Trying to tie up matters via one piece of dialogue towards the end reveals writers and a director with way too much love invested in the material on display.
Side characters of side characters even get their own little sequences that while fun (and bringing up the flesh to "elite" levels), since we've liked two of Ho Fan's characters the short running time becomes an experience where you deflect a whole host of nonsense just to get to them. The winning smile of Tsui Man-Wah and the dopey/conflicted nature to Chi, their story peeks way too early in the film though and what we ultimately end up with is one ordinary romance that bless her heart Man-Wah manages to make survive amongst a lot of stuff that should've remained on the cutting room floor.
It IS a whole lot of fun going behind the scenes of the Category III film though because it shows exactly the lack of glamour cheap adult movies like this rightly has. Ho Fan surely has witnessed characters come and go, fall in and out of love and while not aiming to be heartfelt, his heart IS in the right place when portraying the industry in the laughable (funny) manner anyone should. The package is way overstuffed and too quickly dealt with but ending the movie with outtakes under the credits with suitably delightful moments between those who we found delightful, Temptation Summary II survives its over ambitious behaviour by proving you can have old fashioned fun with a script that, just like in the movie, surely had a giant III in a triangle pre-printed on it.
The DVD (Universe):
Video: 1.77:1 (approximately) non-anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0.
Subtitles: Imbedded English, traditional Chinese.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson