Vulgaria (2012)

Directed by: Pang Ho-Cheung
Written by: Pang Ho-Cheung, Lam Chiu-Wing & Jody Luk
Producers: Pang Ho-Cheung, Leung Kai-Yun & Kelly Chan
Starring: Chapman To, Dada Chen, Ronald Cheng, Simon Loui, Fiona Sit, Siu Yam-Yam, Crystal Tin, Lam Suet, Matt Chow & Hiro Hayama

Movie-producer To Wai-Cheung (Chapman To) recaps the journey of remaking the 1976 erotica Confession Of A Concubine (an actual movie, reviewed here) during a Q & A with a group of university students. Set up with eccentric mainland triad Tyrannosaur (Ronald Cheng) by friend Lui (Simon Loui), over dishes, threats, beverages and donkeys, a deal is struck. Including the demand of having to hire the original movie's lead (and old) actress Siu Yam Yam (who plays herself in Pang's film). Trying to balance the increasingly bizarre making of a movie with fatherhood, To also meets famous oral sex queen Popping Candy (Dada Chen) who's eventually hired as Siu Yam Yam's body double for the film...

"Your attention, please. This movie is classified as a vulgar comedy and if you feel offended by any of this, it's not our fucking problem!"

This is how Vulgaria greets us and its statement is pretty clear. When we go low, we don't want you taking the moral high ground together with us. Please just leave instead. But with it being the brainchild of a very smart and talented director like Pang Ho-Cheung, his attempt to bring the crass back to Category III filmmaking also means he wants to speak. You can chose if Pang's pining for film on film, unashamed and unfiltered vulgarity and just what kind of crazy steps you have to take in order to produce your next hopefully moneymaking product actually even is there or means anything. Because Pang and crew certainly don't care for how much they slingshot us in between rapid and foul dialogue, family drama and satire but again... Pang is smart and he knows how to score a point when being this rude. If you stayed, you're willing to listen.

Thankfully conceived in an era where subtitling is of a higher standard since the rapid Cantonese wordplay threatens to be indecipherable for a Western audience, we're dropped into the lecture featuring Chapman To as a movie producer who seems to be easily distracted and uses the most inappropriate symbolism to describe the work of a producer (it involves pubic hair and friction). Also a sympathetic character who's trying his best being surrounded by bizarre individuals whose work ethic isn't exactly up to his standards (at one point To goes in blind into an advertising agency reading off a prepared, sure-fire plot synopsis provided for him that involves money laundering and Al-Qaeda), Pang's hints of a father not being able to pay alimony and who's probably promised the next project will be the next big thing way too many times. This is compelling because the movie skillfully shows it can slow down for 5 seconds and let us feel some internal/external frustration of a man on the brink of losing the meaningful in his life.

Of course kicking matters into high gear with a non too subtle Mainland encounter with Ronald Cheng's Brother Tyrannosaurus serving up messed up Chinese food and a far fetched idea of remaking Confession Of A Concubine, it wouldn't be inappropriate to say Pang goes off the reservation and he's is just indulging himself to see what low levels he can reach. But that's the filmmaking experiment because damn is the performer energy and surrealist nature to the dishes something to behold. And when you think To can't sink any lower trying to please the money-man, out comes the donkey...

As I said, experiencing the swift and funny Vulgaria as merely a series of vignettes that do their utmost to paint the bizarre picture of the remaking of a movie (or an updated version of it) that not many people heard of is all fine because it's laugh out loud funny and jaw dropping the energy of the scenarios he presents. But it earns its detours into real and sweet with To trying to avoid his daughter being exposed to the Category III of it all while also connecting to famous blow job queen Dada Chen plays (who shows sound instincts as a motherly figure too). He's a character that's living a delusion partly, that the next big thing is now. It's decently meaningful this possible disintegration of family and it all doesn't hinge on whether 'Confession Of Two Concubines' makes sense or money. It seems it has no chance and the way Pang sets up his comedy and moods... it doesn't seem like it has either. But someone is clever here and knew just as long as I get a chance to round up all these elements, acceptance of them all will be achieved. He was right. But it was only meant for those of us who stayed in our seats.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson