Vulgaria (2012) Poster

(2012)

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8/10
Lewd, crude, and – as its title suggests – vulgar, Pang Ho-Cheung's satire of today's Hong Kong film industry is incisive, entertaining and very very funny
moviexclusive18 September 2012
The one gesture of decency infant terrible Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung extends to his audience is in inserting a frank piece of consumer advice before his latest film begins proper. You have been warned - the film you are about to watch goes beyond the bounds of 'Parental Guidance'; in fact, you'll quite surely be reprimanded by your parents if they find out you've been watching such a film with coarse language and despicable behaviour. For the more sensitive members among the audience therefore, you have ten seconds to leave the cinema.

Everyone else who has stayed behind however will be in for a real treat – 'Vulgaria' is every bit as lewd, crude, low-brow, offensive, and deplorable as it promises to be. It is also very very funny, and though it may appear otherwise on the surface, very very smart. You see, Pang has here wisely exploited the inside-out perspective he has gained from his own personal experience and crystallised these observations into a flat-out lampoon of the current state of the Hong Kong- China film industry – and depending on which side of the territory you belong to, he has either hit a very raw nerve or a really sweet spot.

The numbers surely attest it – despite being shot on a shoestring budget over just 12 days, the movie has since surpassed Pang's own earlier mainstream romance 'Love in the Buff' to become the highest-grossing local movie in Hong Kong this year. Certainly, 'Vulgaria' has become something of a cultural zeitgeist given the current social climate on the island, especially the increasingly negative attitude that a large majority of the Hong Kong people hold against Mainland Chinese – and Pang's reflection of their effect on the local film industry is but a microcosm of the frustration and resentment that the locals feel in almost every tangible area be it jobs, transport and housing.

But rather than outrightly supporting his fellow Hong Kong citizens, Pang has deftly crafted a dark satire using the challenges faced by a mock struggling film producer To Wai-Chen (Chapman To) as he tries to find the right material and financing for his next project. On the one hand, To finds himself grovelling for sponsors to put their products inside his movie; on the other, his cut-rate go-to director Blackie Tak (Matt Chow) vehemently refuses any form of product placement. Help comes in the form of his best buddy Liu (Simon Loui), who hooks him up with a Mainland businessperson called Tyrannosaurus (Ronald Cheng) looking to invest in a new motion picture.

To his horror, Tyrannosaurus turns out to be a connoisseur of exotic animals and animal genitals, but dinner is only the start of To's nightmare when he and Liu are forced to have sex with a mule after for their host's amusement. Inspired by his favourite childhood porn film, the 1976 Shaw Brothers' 'Confessions of a Concubine', Tyrannosaurus insists To remake the movie and get the original's star Yum Yum Shaw (Susan Shaw playing herself) to reprise her role - no matter what most, if not all, other Cat III film audiences would think of seeing the 60- plus year old Shaw nude.

To's solution? Using CGI to superimpose Shaw's face onto the body of a young busty aspiring model/ actress Popping Candy (Dada Chen, best known for 'Lan Kwai Fong'), the latter's unusual name in fact alluding to her most extraordinary skill of fellatio. That in itself is one of the film's highlights, and so is Hiro Hayama's cameo appearance that riffs on his infamous 'Sex and Zen 3D' leading act as well as an extended gag involving accusations of sexual harassment brought upon To by his assistant (Fiona Sit) that is only half as funny in Mandarin.

Besides the film industry, Pang also references other social phenomena, such as the relentless pursuit for academic excellence that parents put their children through (sound familiar?) and, by a clever twist towards the end, the pervasiveness and influence of social media in today's interconnected world. Admittedly, the sum of all these parts do not cohere as well, but the scattershot nature of the film – a consequence of filming on an incomplete script and a rushed production schedule – fits the rawness and crudeness of its content perfectly. Pang holds it all together with an overarching setting that sees To sharing his experience with a group of film students at a lecture, and even manages to pack in a moving emotional arc of To's estranged relationship with his wife (Crystal Tin) and daughter.

With 'Vulgaria', Pang has also given Chapman To one of his best roles in recent roles that take advantage of his spot-on comic timing to propel him firmly into leading-man status. To plays his character with just the right mix of incredulity and resignation, and the few scenes he shares with his real-life wife Tin also manage to be surprisingly touching. Cheng shines too in an over-the-top role as Tyrannosaurus, and the rest of the ensemble supporting cast (that were probably all willing to do Pang a favour considering his rising clout) also add much life to the parody.

But the bulk of the credit should be Pang's, this being his second movie to be released this year, both of which – 'Love in the Buff' and this – happen to be our picks for the best Hong Kong films you'll see this year. It's no coincidence that the socially conscious filmmaker has found both critical and also commercial success with both films, considering how socially heightened Hong Kong society has been in recent months. Even though its off-colour ribald jokes may give the impression that Pang is pandering to the lowest common denominator, 'Vulgaria' is really much more clever and much more ingenious than it appears – and this is one sharp skewer of the current state of the local film industry that any discerning moviegoer will definitely enjoy.

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9/10
Casey's Movie Mania: VULGARIA (2012)
caseymoviemania9 December 2012
A top-notch Hong Kong comedy at its best, Pang Ho-Cheung's VULGARIA is a hilarious satire that pokes fun on the Hong Kong movie industry (particularly Category III genre) and of course, low-budget filmmaking in general.

The first two scenes are particularly the funniest ones that had me laughing nonstop. It opens with a sleazy producer named To Wai-Cheung (Chapman To) who is being interviewed by his old friend Professor Cheng (Lawrence Cheng) inside an auditorium filled with film students, to discuss about the nature of producing a movie. Among the hilarious part is how To compares his job as a producer to human pubic hair (a vulgar, but inspiring metaphor nonetheless).

Next up, is another memorable part on how To recounts an unfortunate incident in which he was forced to do something unpleasant for the sake of funding a movie. Introduced by his best friend Lui (Simon Lui), both of them head over to Guangxi and meets a triad head named Tyrannosaurus (Ronald Cheng) at a favorite restaurant. Tyrannosaurus has a peculiar taste, especially the way he introduces both of them all the so-called signature weird dishes. But nothing comes weirder than Tyrannosaurus' taste of "woman". Not human, that is but rather a mule. In order to seal the deal of getting the fund, both To and Lui must have sex with two mules specially brought over for them. And there's more: Tyrannosaurus is specifically wanted To to remake a 1976 period erotic classic CONFESSION OF A CONCUBINE and only wants his favorite star, Siu Yam-Yam (Susan Shaw) to play the leading role all over again.

So To calls out Siu Yam-Yam to propose his idea for the CONFESSION OF A CONCUBINE remake. But since the original version has aged over 30 years ago, it's natural that the now-older Siu Yam-Yam feels unpleasant to strip anymore (you'll get the picture). Nevertheless, Siu Yam-Yam rejects his offer, but To must finds way to fulfill Tyrannosaurus' pet project no matter what.

Enter wannabe starlet nicknamed Popping Candy (Dada Chan). During a fellatio involving some popping candies, Popping Candy has unexpectedly gives To a great idea about how to make Tyrannosaurus' dream comes true. By using CGI, he will combines Siu Yam-Yam's face and Popping Candy's busty body. His idea nevertheless prompted Siu Yam-Yam herself to agree for playing the role all over again. But of course, nothing comes smooth during the filmmaking process as To also juggles with his own personal problem involving his ex-wife (Crystal Tin) and his little daughter Jacqueline (Jacqueline Chan).

Blessed with a Category III rating, writer-director Pang Ho-Cheung has certainly goes rampant with lots of colorful, yet creative Cantonese profanities. Likewise, his brand of knowing humor hits the jackpot that lampoons from almost everything he can think of -- filmmaking, sexual harassment, Hong Kong educational system, 3D SEX AND ZEN parody involving Hiro Hayama and even Al-Qaeda reference. The result is uproariously funny.

Special kudos also goes to all the gamely playful actors involved here. Chapman To's comical performance is pitch-perfect, while Dada Chan is surprisingly likable enough as the endearing Popping Candy. The rest of the supporting actors perform their respective roles pretty good. Even the cameo appearances (Lam Suet, Miriam Yeung) are just as memorable. But the true standout is none others than Ronald Cheng, who excels in a tour de force performance as the crude and primitive triad head Tyrannosaurus. Each time he appears in a scene, he's a laughing riot to watch for.

No doubt VULGARIA earns its place as one of the funniest Hong Kong comedies ever seen in a long while, but the movie is still without its glaring flaws. Pang Ho-Cheung's energetic storyline is sometimes incoherent and also lack of focus. It's also quite a shame that he doesn't make use of Category III rating to showcase sex and nudity (especially those involving Dada Chan) which might disappoint genre fans.

And by the way, stick around after the credit rolls. Midway, there's more scenes afterwards and particularly the crucial one involved whether or not To is having sex with a mule.

http://www.caseymoviemania.blogspot.com
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The Cantonese bawdy comedy back again.
Mozjoukine29 August 2012
This one is surprisingly lively as a product of the largely dormant Hong Kong film industry.

The makers of the success LOVE IN THE BUFF offer a low comedy version of their industry which includes sex with farm animals, a heroine promoting a hand job video game, gangster finance and the seventies skin-flic star Shaw Ying Ying back by popular demand, in her sixties.

It's pushed along briskly and they get value out of their small budget, with good craft aspects and likable players.

The piece is framed by a film school lecture session. The English subtitlers battle with some of the material.
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5/10
Unusual Hong Kong movie...
paul_haakonsen9 January 2016
I will start by saying that "Vulgaria" (aka "Dai juk hei kek") is a very unusual movie to make it out of the Hong Kong cinema. It was a fresh breath of air given its bizarre approach and outrageous story. That being said, then I feel there was also something genuine missing from the story, which sadly resulted in a mediocre movie. "Vulgaria" had so much potential to be really unique and memorable, but failed to utilize the opportunity.

The storyline is about a financially challenged Hong Kong movie producer who ends up aspiring for funding his movie at the hands of a mainland Chinese triad gang in Guangxi. Producer To (played by Chapman To) is struggling with custody of his daughter as his ex-wife is more than adamant about not letting him see his daughter. And he is seeing more than talent in the movie's female lead Popping Candy (played by Dada Chan).

There are many interesting aspects and layers to "Vulgaria", but it was like enjoying a meal prepared without spices. Yes, the movie was just missing a key ingredient, and as such it ended as a flat, mediocre movie.

The acting in the movie was good, and the actors and actresses really performed so well, and they really carried the movie quite well. Chapman To is of course fabulous in "Vulgaria", as is in all of his movies.

"Vulgaria" is a rare moment of cinema to make it out of Hong Kong, and as such you should watch it if you are a fan of Asian cinema. However, if you are not overly familiar with Hong Kong cinema, perhaps you are far better off with a different movie.
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3/10
Not worth wasting your time on.
shaunpearson200717 December 2017
Vulgaria aka: Dai juk hei kek (original title)

I picked up Vulgaria without doing any research, so I only had myself to blame. The Blu-ray happened to appear while I was on Amazon looking at other films, Vulgaria appeared under *Frequently bought together*. The Blu-ray cover design looks funky, besides, some Asian films can be great.

On pressing 'play' I had preconceived ideas I was about to watch something funny, dark, Asian mad-cap, a story about a guy making a sex film. The reality is, it was none of those things, other than, trying to be funny, there is a story about funding a sex film, that eventually gets made. The lead character, played by Chapman To, plays the part of producer, and his acting reminded me of Benny Hill, family friendly. I wasn't impressed. I won't bother describing the story, as others have done so already.

Not worth wasting your time on.
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