It's a documentary about the Japanese sex and porn industries, dressed up as a bad comedy about Hong Kong reporters being sent to investigate by their horrible boss. The documentary's good, but the comedy's not funny.
So, you all know about Japan's sex industry. Their reputation for perversion is world-beating and sure enough, there's stuff in here I hadn't known about. Scoutman
gave us an insider's view, whereas this is merely showing what it's like to go to weird fetish bars and interview people. You couldn't accuse it of digging deep, but we do see some surprising fetishes. They're not sick, mind you. There's almost nothing illegal here, no enjo kosai or too much of anything else that might put the audience off their lunch. No, the weirdness is merely because the sexual niches being catered to are so specific. Here we see:
(a) the Dead Body Club, in which girls are paid to lie on an autopsy table and not react
(b) sex shops devoted entirely to women's mouths or legs
(d) breast piercing
(e) a legal molesting service, in which you hire the services of a woman in a schoolgirl costume on a cut-away replica of an underground train
(f) women who pay to go to gigolo clubs, or to be tied up and have hot wax dripped on them
(g) a surprising range of personal things that a woman can sell to perverts
(h) what it's like to work as a scoutman (as in Scoutman
), complete with tips like "look for girls who aren't from Tokyo" and "name-drop big AV stars so the girls think they too might become famous"
All this is mildly mind-bending. Everyone's so matter-of-fact and reasonable. They explain what it's like to do their job and give helpful tips, so for instance we learn about the six kinds of prostitution and the fact that body piercers will do any part of the anatomy except the eyeball. I hadn't known how much preparation it took to set someone up as an AV star and I suspect the version that got shown to the filmmakers here isn't the only route. There are lots of facts and figures, e.g. 20% of girls in Shinjuku Street are transvestites. There's even an educational section as top AV stars (both male and female) give their best oral sex tips and show you how to stimulate a woman's G-spot. They draw diagrams and demonstrate on sex toys.
Obviously there's lots of nudity, but it doesn't feel as if it's trying to give you a hard-on. It just goes with the territory.
However unfortunately there's also the unfunny comedy. In fairness I can sort of understand where they're coming from. They don't actually want to make a full-on documentary, because that would just get shown on the Hong Kong equivalent of BBC2 at 11:30 in the evening. They wanted something that would play in cinemas. Thus we have Leung Siu as a middle-aged pervert and Ming Kwan Chan as a reporter who also works in massage parlours. They've been doing a Porno Guide, which for Leung Siu meant buying whores on expenses and then writing about it, but their editor wants them to buck their ideas up. He's sending them to Japan. They fly out there and do all those interviews, which is good, but they also have lots of lame non-comedy. I use the word "comedy" in a technical sense, you understand. One infers that it's comedy by the way it has slapstick, pratfalls and goofy overreactions. What you definitely won't have is laughter.
For the most part, this is merely dead air. Ming Kwan Chan is likeable enough and I didn't hate Leung Siu, despite the fact that his character is mildly repellent. Most of their scenes neither improve nor ruin the film. However every so often there's a cartoonish bit where some of the documentary stuff looks as if it's being staged in the same Scooby Doo vein. That I didn't like. The bidders' mugging at the panties auction is merely tedious, but it's actually annoying to see the scene with the housewife call girl, her jealous husband and a moment of lame fisticuffs.
Those two are... functional. However there's another couple who are kind of sweet. The boy has been ordered by his scumbag editor to go to Japan and work as an AV actor, while the girl he meets is a nice young lady who's trying to earn money for her overseas studies. They encourage each other. They help each other get ahead in the sex industry and they promise to write to each other when she's overseas. Heartwarming, eh?
To be honest, though, the non-comedy isn't particularly important. There's quite a lot of it, but it's forgettable. You're here for the documentary, which is interesting and was an eye-opener even for me. There are a few bits that stand out, not always in a good way... the demonstration of how to be a train molester was kind of disturbing, although I don't know how seriously we're meant to be taking it, while I'm afraid I wasn't that interested in the TV sex massage therapist. He's a bit too wholesome and mainstream to have that "you've got to be kidding me" factor. He's massaging his partner during sex. That's it. He's clearly a trained masseur who knows what he's talking about and it's not without a certain curiosity factor, but it's all mimed (underpants kept firmly on) and a bit too Blue Peter for me.
(That's not a dodgy gag, by the way. I presume everyone reading this knows about the British children's TV show, right?)
I thought it was quite interesting. It would have been better without the mildly irritating non-comedy, but it's not a movie-breaker. Everyone's dubbed into Chinese, unfortunately, but then again porn-watchers will be surprised to see a film about the Japanese porn industry that shows genitals with no digital mosaic. Overall it's a decent enough documentary on a subject that's overflowing with bizarre material. There's always something cool or weird coming up in the next five minutes, be it an insanely beautiful Thai ladyboy or a barman in awesome fetish gear. We also don't see any hardcore action, in case you were wondering. I quite liked it.
"Tell me your opinion." "None - I want free whores."