Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive (1989)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy  |  24 August 1990 (USA)
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A man is hired by a group of people he believes to be gangsters to escort a briefcase from America to Hong Kong. When he arrives, however, his contact is nowhere to be found. With no ... See full summary »


, (story) (as Amir M. Mokri) , 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Wan Kin Cheng ...
Duck Killer (as Chan Kim Wan)
John Chan ...
The Son-in-Law (as John K. Chan)
Kwan-Min Cheng ...
Uncle Cheng (as Cheng Kwan Min)
Allen Fong ...
Taxi Driver
Rocky Wing Cheung Ho ...
Punk #2 (as Rocky Ho)
Cinda Hui ...
Gary Kong ...
Punk #1
Chung Lin ...
Ex-Red Guard (as Lam Chung)
Lieh Lo ...
Wei Lo ...
The Boss (as Lo Wai)
Cora Miao ...
Spencer Nakasako ...
Yat Boon Jai
Bonnie Ngai ...
The Daughter
Blind Man
Wu Kin Man ...


A man is hired by a group of people he believes to be gangsters to escort a briefcase from America to Hong Kong. When he arrives, however, his contact is nowhere to be found. With no further instructions, he decides to take in the sights of Hong Kong, which consist of him taking part in a great deal of blood, sex and general weirdness, all while wearing a briefcase handcuffed to his arm. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A scathing new black comedy from the director of "Dim Sum" and "Chan Is Missing"




Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

24 August 1990 (USA)  »

Box Office


$108,392 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wayne Wang's experimental style of guerrilla filmmaking was met with legal consternation by Disney attorneys after Wayne used Mickey Mouse ear caps in a scene as a satirical prop for his scathing commentary on the cultural effects of global capitalism in a pre-emerging China. Subsequently the Disney icons were digitally fogged out of all exhibition prints. See more »

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User Reviews

an in-your-face Hong Kong postcard
30 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

Memorable mixture of surreal comedy and drama by Wayne Wang, about a stranger from overseas on a mission in Hong Kong - but he's not quite sure what the mission is. During the process he wanders around the city and gets caught up with a variety of dodgy, weird and alluring characters.

Semi-documentary material (interviews, animal slaughter) is inserted throughout, giving "Life is Cheap..." an intriguing texture. Memorable for possibly the longest foot chase sequence in the history of movies, ending in the infamous and now demolished Walled City near the former Kai Tak Airport.

Not a movie for everyone by any means (especially not the blinkered MPAA ratings board), but those who love Hong Kong and its movies should make the effort and hunt down this strange, near-forgotten little movie. Fans of "Pink Flamingos" will connect with the penultimate scene.

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