Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jail House Eros (Sai Hung Fung, 1990)

What kind of women in prison movie is this?!? No, seriously, someone please tell me, 'cause I have no idea how to approach this Category III film. You see, part of my mind is literally gnawing at the store bought restraints that are preventing me from writing about Jail House Eros from the perspective of a perverted individual; folks who are extremely comfortable whenever they find themselves face-to-crotch with a good old fashion women in prison flick. Which, theoretically, is the correct part of the brain to start from; after all, the word "jail" is in the title. Yeah, but what about the angelic ghosts, the boorish handymen (one's who looked like they just wandered off the set of the Cantonese language version of Porky's), the leggy Taoist priests with low self-esteem, and, last but not least, the awkward romantic subplot involving a middle-aged virgin? Where do they fit in? Or better yet, what am I supposed to do with them? My subconscious isn't equipped to handle this much genre-skewering at once. Give me a story about a desperate woman struggling to survive within the decrepit walls a poorly run correctional facility on the outskirts of a fractured dream, and I'll penetrate its cinematic anus with a buttery ease. However, if you upset the natural order of things by adding supernatural weirdness and slapstick comedy to the proceedings, you'll find me twitching in the corner of the room sweating like a confused house plant. (Pick any plant, it doesn't matter, I'm leafy and discombobulated as fuck.) I've got an idea, let's try to come at the film as if it four movies in one. The first movie is obviously a straightforward women in prison film about three inmates who clash with a group of rival inmates on a semi-regular basis. I liked this movie. Sure, the brawls get a little monotonous after awhile, but I dug the way they all seemed to revolve around the largeness of Amy Yip's Asian tits.

Yep, you heard right, the ample breasted star of Robotrix is back and she's stirring up trouble, as a gang of ladies, lead by a short-haired woman with small breasts played by Git Leng Chan, are always fighting with Amy Yip's crew over things as varied as chicken wing allotment to cafeteria lunch line etiquette.

What a like about Amy Yip is that her breasts are never out in the open. I know, some of you are thinking: "What the hell are you talking about? I wanna see Amy Yip's naked boobies on the screen I watch movies on as often as humanly possible." Doesn't it bring you a thimble's worth of comfort to know they're protruding in a state of chest-based anonymity? No comfort, eh? Yeah, I guess you're right, the amount of comfort it provides is negligible at best. Instead of whining about it ad nauseum, what we all need to do is except the fact that Amy Yip has chosen, for whatever reason, to keep her massive jugs under wraps and move on.

This applies to the rest of the film's cast, too, as the majority of the unclothed work is carried out by the actresses with non-speaking roles. Pay close attention, while the fights that break out are mainly started by Amy Yip and Git Leng Chan, the bulk of the hair pulling and clothes ripping is done by extras or stunt women; I'm gonna say the latter, as some of the fights were quite intense.

Opening with a sequence involving an inmate named Blackie (Joanna Chan) trying to escape via the old slingshot-zip line technique, Jail House Eros quickly ushers us behind the barbed-wire fence of this unnamed prison located somewhere in post-hangover Hong Kong. While her attempt is successful, Blackie is actually dreaming. Screaming, "I made it" over and over again in Cantonese, Blackie accidentally kicks the bunk containing a disagreeable woman with short hair. And so begins fight #1. A scrappy affair that features an alarming amount of shoe throwing, this dust-up gives us our first peek at the sexy bruises that pepper Joanna Chan's Chinese gams. What can I say? I'm a sick twist. Don't worry, her bruises were mild at best, and probably acquired over the course of the rigorous shoot.

Somewhat satisfied over the way the film's first girl-based melee played out, the film shifts gears a bit when it starts to focus a trio of morons, who, from now on, will be called the three stooges. Hired to renovate a dilapidated building on the prison grounds by Inspector Feng (Shui-Fan Fung), the three stooges waste little exploiting their situation. In fact, fight #2 breaks out mainly as a result of their lewd behaviour. As the inmates are being marched to work (I guess they pick vegetables as a part of their rehabilitation), they pass the three stooges on the road outside the prison. Goading them with cat calls, Amy Yip's crew and Git Leng Chan's gang decide to have a sexy-off to prove once and for all who's the sexiest. Even though their gingham night shirts aren't the most effective garments for showcasing the female form, the girls try their best to make do. The so-called "sexy-off" soon morphs into an orgy of violence that finds a bunch of women who look nothing like the women who were involved in the sexy-off rolling around on the grass with one another.

In a rare move, Jail House Eros closely adheres to the WiP playbook, in that, the sexy-off ringleaders are punished by being sprayed with water from a fire hose.

Without a doubt, the film's most appealing character is Blackie; a status that is solidified when she daydreams about escaping via a fallen tree (her adorableness is off the charts). After an asinine sequence that finds the three stooges pairing off with the members of Amy Yip's crew (one where a Toblerone penis gag is employed), we're ready for fight #3 to commence. And just like fight #1, it centres around Blackie being bullied by Git Leng Chan's gang. Coming to Blackie's defense after Git steals her chicken wing, Amy Yip's crew show their displeasure by hurling food at them. As expected, this causes a full on food fight to erupt.

After the cafeteria has calmed down, this women in prison sex comedy adds supernatural thriller and romantic farce to the list of genres it tackles. The ghost of a prisoner who died during an escape attempt in the early 1970s is let loose after Blackie finds her music box buried in the yard. The ghost's name is Jane (Loletta Lee), and judging by her angelic appearance, she's a "good ghost." Anyway, rescuing Blackie from a fall that would have surely killed her (she was trying to escape via a drain pipe), it's clear that Jane sees a little bit of herself in the shy yet determined inmate (despite her shyness, Blackie's the only inmate who seems to want to escape). Protecting her from abusive bullies who steal chicken wings and helping her plan her escape attempts, Blackie and Jane make a delightful team.

The other inmates, however, don't like the idea of a ghost roaming the halls of the prison, and decide to "occupy" the cafeteria to protest the ghost's presence. And, get this, the intensity of fight #4 (a bathroom brawl that involves Jane taking over the body of one of Blackie's tormentors) causes Amy Yip's crew and Git Leng Chan's gang to form an alliance.

In terms of sex appeal, I would say Aunt Pei (Pauline Wong Yuk-Wan), a leggy Taoist priest who may or may not have the hots for Inspector Feng, is the film's sexiest character (Amy Yip lost that distinction the second she aligned herself with Git). An expert when it comes to the supernatural, Pei is tricked into going on a date with Feng by the three stooges. You see, while Pei thinks she's on a date (and judging by the black pantyhose she wears, she means business), Feng thinks he's there to hire her to do some freelance ghostbusting at his prison. This misunderstanding leads to some comical situations of an erotic nature. My favourite situation being the moment when Feng tries to blow spilled salt off Pei's nylon ensnared ankle.

You know what they say? There's nothing more exciting than the sight of a middle-aged virgin trying to remove salt from the shapely ankle belonging to a Taoist priest who wears glasses. Am I right, fellas?

If there's a "good ghost," you know there has to be a "bad ghost." Showing up right on cue, the ghost of a recently deceased prison guard (Chi Chun Ha) causes havoc after being accidentally unleashed by the three stooges during a bogus ritual. Unable to attain Pei's services, the three stooges attempt to cleanse the prison themselves. Which, I don't have to tell you, is a terrible idea. At any rate, will Feng be able to acquire Pei's ghostbusting skills in time to stop the evil forces that have inundated his prison? Probably. But the nevertheless, the schizophrenic Jail House Eros is something that fans of women in prison flicks should experience at least once.

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  1. "Amy Yip's Asian tits"

    This might seem redundant, but Asian tits are different, particularly nipple wise.

    Ironically, Blackie unleashes a ghost that has Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) hair. I'm not sure if that's real irony or Alanis Morrisette irony.

    Your blog saddens me in the sense that you repeatedly crush my dream that I've seen every WIP film. It also exposes me to new WIP films so it's a wash.

  2. Earlier in the week, I recall making a mental note to remove the word, "Asian," from the line, "Amy Yip's Asian tits," as I felt it was unnecessary to single out her tits' racial construct. But judging by your comment, I'm kinda glad my mental note was ignored with extreme prejudice.

    Even though it took me a couple of oddly employed ganders, I agree, the ghost Blackie unleashes in Jail House Eros does in fact look like Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P.

    Oh, and speaking of W.A.S.P., are you aware that in your last comment you mentioned the band RATT?

    I'm impressed that you've gotten to a stage in your life where you think you've seen every WIP film ever made. I hope to get to that stage one day. Baby steps. ;)

  3. Yes, I'm fully aware. That's how things roll as far as my brain is concerned.

    Alas, that stage is merely an illusion; the residue of hubris. There will always be more WIP films than any one person can watch.

  4. Hi, How are you? I love how I come to your blog seeking quirky, offbeat titles and am never disappointed. My friends never get me and call me a closeted hipster. Oh, generalizations!

    I know you refused my invitation to meet up, and looking back it seems bizarre that I even asked. So random. But any guy/gal who indulges in obscure, unheard of titles, and then proceeds to so eloquently review them for us, I thought of taking a chance.

    How do you watch these films though? Do you download them or rent them or purchase? I have never used netflix but I'd be surprised to see some of these titles on it.

    Take care

  5. @Thomas Duke: Since I like the way your brain rolls, don't let my lack of heavy metal awareness dampen your enthusiasm when it comes to name-dropping the likes W.A.S.P. and RATT.

    @rishi851: Hello. Excellent question. I rent the movies at a store (Eyesore Cinema) and then watch them on my television.