Ever wondered what would happen if Hong Kong movie makers crossed "My Fair Lady" with "Pretty Woman"? Well, GIGOLO AND WHORE appears to be the result of one attempt at doing so; with Simon Yam in the role of the kinder, gentler gigolo version of Prof. Henry Higgins (!), Alex Fong as a client who explicitly points out that he shares the same first name as Mr. Gere, and Carina Lau as the Mainland Chinese ugly duckling who turns into a chicken -- Cantonese (and also, incidentally, Kiswahili!) slang for a prostitute -- as well as a swan.
Okay, maybe you have to be in the right mood to watch the movie -- the way that you also have to be with the likes of "I'm Your Birthday Cake" and "Boys Are Easy" -- and even then, it would never be mistaken as the classiest of movies (be it in terms of execution as well as premise)...but, to its credit, the film's makers clearly have no such aspirations or pretensions. With this in mind, and particularly if you think of it as a romantic comedy (rather than a drama), it's actually not too bad an effort at all!
And this movie definitely does have some inspired as well as amusing "only in Hong Kong movies" moments. Among them are: Meditations by Simon Yam on sex between a man and a woman being akin to one's scratching one's itchy ear with a finger, and men liking women to be shaped like Coke bottles; Simon teaching Carina how to sound pleasured rather than pained; and Carina's "before" and "after" training noodle shop jingle-singing performances.
N.B. Carina Lau turns in a sweet as well as versatile performance, and was rewarded with a Hong Kong "Best Actress" award nomination for her work in this movie. One can't help but think that she surely was drawing on her experiences of having been a Mainland Chinese girl who eventually made good in Hong Kong after initially being the butt of ridicule because of her different dressing style, demeanor and accented Cantonese (something she recalled in a Newsweek article which was written around the time of Hong Kong's "Hand-Over").
My rating for this film: 7.