Older movie-goers may remember that the 1990s were regarded as the golden era of Hong Kong’s Category III films i.e., films that, according to Hong Kong’s own film rating system, “no persons younger than 18 years of age are permitted to rent, purchase, or watch in the cinema”. What might have been thought of as cheap, sleazy films that are best hidden or forgotten actually spurred several Hong Kong directors to create memorable cult favourites like Sex And Zen, The Fruit Is Ripe, Raped By An Angel, Erotic Ghost Story, A Chinese Torture Chamber and Hong Kong Gigolo. Such films also successfully launched the careers of stars like Simon Yam, Mark Cheng, Elvis Tsui, Loletta Lee, Veronica Yip, Amy Yip and Shu Qi, some of whom have even gone on to garner nominations and wins at the prestigious Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards.
Predictably, given the tendency to remake films in recent years, it comes as no surprise that attempts are being made to recreate the success of these Category III films. First came 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, then the Lan Kwai Fong film trilogy as well as The Gigolo. Now, the sequel to The Gigolo is hitting cinema screens.
Picking up some time after the first film leaves off, Lan Kwai Fong alumnus Dominic Ho returns as the titular character, Ho Kui-Fung. Having tasted success as a singer, movie star and the King of Gigolos with a legendarily gigantic endowment, he now owns a successful nightclub in Lan Kwai Fong and enjoys life, having “semi-retired” from showbiz and hustling. Having mastered the tricks of the trade, as seen in the previous film, he still occasionally serves as a sex consultant on a case-to-case basis. One of these cases involves Isabel (Leslie Lam), a sheltered socialite lawyer who needs Fung to guide her on how to achieve orgasm without breaking her extra-thick hymen, so as to prepare her for her soon-to-be husband when they get married. As if that were not challenging enough, Fung finds himself taking on the second challenge of mentoring greenhorn Monica (Connie Man), who has reluctantly turned to prostitution to pay her mother’s medical bills but has been labelled a ‘dead fish’ due to her aversion towards sex. Trouble brews when both Isabel and Monica fall for Fung, with the former risking the wrath of her fiancé by going all the way in a final tryst with Fung and the latter getting embroiled in a potentially lethal S&M encounter with a reputable wealthy couple harbouring a dark and dangerous secret.
Commendable as his efforts may be, Ho is no Simon Yam. Admittedly, his washboard abs may outshine those of Simon in his heyday but, simply put, Dominic lacks the soul and enigmatic charisma that Simon brings to every role he played. Yes, even those gigolo ones. And as buxom and alluring as they may be, Man, Lam and the rest of the hot babes in the film are merely walking and talking female eye candy, sorely lacking in any depth or dimension.
Fans of old Hong Kong movies might find it amusing that the film pays homage to previous Category III films such as Gigolo And Whore, in which Carina Lau, under the tutelage of Yam, proclaims that, if she has to be a prostitute, she would go all out to become the queen of all prostitutes – a statement repeated by Monica in this newer and more risqué version. Also recycled here are the hilarious sequences in which Fung coaches Monica on how to realistically moan in ecstasy, and the way in which Monica falls for Fung against all odds, much like Lau’s and Yam’s characters did in Gigolo And Whore.
Comedy aficionados may also find resonance in the scene where Fung replicates the male anatomy with a cigar and two scoops of ice cream dangling in netted sacks underneath to teach Monica how to perform fellatio, tying it to the humorous scene in 1988’s The Greatest Lover, in which the late Anita Mui trains Chow Yuen Fatt to become the perfect lover by coaxing out the silver coin embedded in a radish by only using his lips and tongue.
And then there’s the scene in which Monica publicly demonstrates to Fung in a fine dining restaurant what she has learned from him, by emitting an embarrassingly loud and orgasmic sensual moan a la Meg Ryan from the iconic When Harry Met Sally diner scene.
While still a far cry from its more successful sex-worker themed predecessors like Hong Kong Gigolo, Girls Without Tomorrow, and Moon, Star And Sun, which effectively combine sex and soul in their execution, The Gigolo 2 still might scrape by as barely passable entertainment, purely for those frisky few who might be keen on its male and female eye candy, frivolous love scenes and a select few funny moments that may bring back memories of a better time in the golden era of Hong Kong’s Category III films.
Summary: True-blue fans of Hong Kong’s Category III films might be better off revisiting their old collection of memorable erotica cult favourites. But, if you are keen on fresh male and female eye candy getting frisky onscreen, go right ahead and find out what happens next to the King of Gigolos in this frivolous film sequel.
RATING: 2 out of 5 stars
– Jonathan Sung