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:: Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan

A tasty treat for some. Having been fully restored from the original film, we see sword fighters with lesbian tendencies mark this Shaw Brothers film. It's full of their usual gloss and smoothness in production and stands out as an intense melodrama. It is an infamous Shaw Brothers film that shocked Chinese audiences back in 1972 - from a madame who is far too attached to her prostitutes, a randy pack of rich men and a courtesan hell-bent on revenge, all served up with plenty of over-the-top kung-fu mayhem.

The film actually begins in the midst of things as chief inspector Ji (Yueh Hua) investigates the murder of a local nobleman. After questioning the dead man's servant, Ji learns that a prostitute named Ainu (Lily Ho) was the last person to see the deceased alive. Abducted and sold into a life of prostitution, Ainu is presented by her kidnappers to the brothel's lesbian madam, Lady Chun (Betty Pei Ti). Ainu's fiery attitude gets her locked away in a dungeon

The all-powerful madam takes a liking to Ainu and tries to shows the young beauty how comfortable life would be if she merely gave in to her Sapphic tendencies, but despite the allure of riches and luxury, Ainu remains defiant. For her trouble, Ainu is brutally thrashed with a cane by the brutal brothel-keeper.

After an attempted suicide, Ainu comes to identify with the mute boy who saves her life. He sympathises with her due to her resemblance to his lost love and vows to help her. He turns out to be an accomplished swordsman and attempts to escape with Ainu, though even he is no match for a horde of armed bouncers and the incredibly skilled Lady Chun. With her only means of escape gone, Ainu reluctantly pledges her allegiance to the mysterious head courtesan. She is trained in the ways of seduction and swordplay, and quickly begins an intense affair with Lady Chun. Yet Ainu's intentions are less than genuine, as she secretly plots revenge against all who have wronged her, starting with one of the depraved aristocrats.

What follows is a mesmerising display of martial arts action and choreographed physical artistry, as Ainu and Lady Chun fight their way through hordes of male attackers before confronting each other in a final showdown.

Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan looks dazzling in its restored state. Director Yuen Chor makes excellent use of colour and contrast throughout, giving the film a sharp look. The typical Shaw Brothers attention to detail is on display in the various interior and courtyard settings, as it provides an inviting backdrop for the film's themes of loyalty, perversion and revenge. The highlight of the film is the wonderful costume design: the top courtesans in particular are decked out in colourful, stylish costumes that bring out the more subtle aspects of their sexuality.

Both Pei Ti and Lily Ho are incredible athletes who perform their acrobatic manoeuvres with grace and style.The ladies make complex moves look easy. Although the film is billed as erotic exploitation, these elements are actually rather tame compared to other genre films of the time.

The film is quaint in its depictions of prostitution and sexual perversion. Though the pacing is perhaps a little too slow towards the beginning of the film, the elaborate sets, well-crafted story and exotic characters work wonderfully together to move the film forward. When the action moves up a notch, it's done with a vengeance. And like many other Shaw Brothers films, the female leads are absolutely stunning and they command undivided attention whenever they appear on screen. In spite of its blatant sex appeal, the film manages to deliver a surreal viewing experience like only the Shaws can.

Mandarin language with English subtitles.

DVD Extras

Trailers: Clans of Intrigue, Death Duel, Duel of Fist, The Lizard
Shaw Star Profiles
Shaw Brothers Interactive Quiz