Thursday, September 22, 2016

In short: The Stewardess (2002)

Original title: 非常凶姐

Ken Ma (Sam Lee Chan-Sam) spends his working time as a small time screenwriter and his free time as an improbable pick-up artist. His life becomes rather more interesting when he opts for what he thinks is only a one night stand with air hostess Apple (Lee San-San).

Before he can even blink, he’s Apple’s official boyfriend – and Apple’s not the kind of girl who’ll let her boyfriend run around trying to sleep with other women, or indeed one who’ll stop at anything to control him. In fact, first order of business for her is introducing Ken to her father, triad boss Dragon (Michael Chan Wai-Man), for photos and fingerprinting, so it’s easier to find Ken if he leaves the straight and narrow, and needs a corrective loss of a certain sexual organ ending with “ick”. So clearly, nothing could go wrong with the romance between our sleazy protagonist and his horrid new girlfriend.

Yet things do become even worse than expected when a Japanese woman (Seina Kasugai) who always dresses in red and generally introduces herself ominously as “Yurei, air hostess” steps into Ken’s life and sexes him up right quick (not that there’s any resistance from his side, mind you). Soon, Ken isn’t just in trouble with a violent girlfriend and her penis-cutting dad, but also has to cope with the little fact that “Yurei” is batshit, murderously insane even for a character in this movie.

If Sam Leong Tak-Sam’s horror comedy The Stewardess is anything, it certainly is pretty darn weird. I’m not just talking the sort of comedic weirdness born from a disconnect between Hong Kong concepts of what’s funny and mine that inevitably leads to stuff flying right over my head. Nor do I just talk about the eyebrow-raising more common and garden weirdness of a film that comments on its Chinese protagonist sleeping with a Japanese woman with a fantasy scene that shows him wearing a military uniform and breaking a Japanese World War II style battle flag in two over his knee. Rather, I’m talking about the sort of freeform insanity that can’t help but add some perfectly bizarre flourish to even the most pedestrian of scenes and concepts, of course – this being a Hong Kong film – often leaving all sorts of good and proper taste behind to offend whoever is available – the Japanese, the triads, the mentally ill, Takashi Miike, its own lead actor and everyone else are all fair game for whatever dumb idea Leong and co-writer Rikako Suzuki have in any given moment.

More often than not, Leong presents the general and specific weirdness in a stylish and slick – yet still batshit - manner that makes parts of the film look like the love child of a pretty screwy giallo and young Takashi Miike on one of his milder days. Add to this the outrageous performance by Seina Kasugi, Lam Suet doing his standard triad guy named Fatty thing, and certainly nobody will get bored watching The Stewardess.

No comments: