Guess Who Killed My Twelve Lovers

With a song seemingly every five to ten minutes this 1969 Shaw Brothers film may make many people quickly run out of the room screaming in agony, but I found this inoffensive and admittedly pointless film to be an unexpectedly charming delight. Pointless may be a bit harsh because there is clearly one and only one main reason to have made the movie – but what a reason. Jenny Hu. She was one of Shaw’s most stunning leading ladies and this strikes me as a little present and thank you to her fans. And since I happen to be one of those, I appreciate it very much. Known perhaps more for her dramatic turns in films like her debut “Till the End of Time” or her remake of  “Love Without End”, here she turns her hand to light comedy and spends much of the film with an ear to ear smile pasted on her face like Mona Lisa being tickled on her feet. It seems that every film industry has to have at least one actress compared to Audrey Hepburn, but few remind me of her as much as Jenny does with her classy appearance, elegant demeanor, radiant smile and slim looks.

Six college students (one of them being a very young Dean Shek) are boating when they hear over the radio that a strong typhoon is headed their way and so they are forced to make for the shore at Lantau Island. Thankfully they brought their guitars and the three young men and three women happily break into song and do a little twisting while waiting on the beach. Another report comes through on the radio – back in Hong Kong a woman is reported to have killed twelve men while apparently in a very bad mood and she has escaped in a small motorboat and is wearing an orange bathing suit. Right on cue a motorboat comes into sight and runs out of gas. A woman jumps out and swims to shore and when she rises out of the surf it’s our Jenny looking like a wet orange dream.

Apparently Lantau Island had no lodging back then and so Jenny – and her character’s name also just happens to be Jenny Hu – bumps into a local yokel (Li Kun playing a good guy for a rare change) who is not surprisingly bedazzled by this barefooted beauty walking about town in a form fitting bathing suit and he helps her sneak into a home where the owners are away. It is being care tended though by Chin Han and he soon discovers her taking a bubble bath and jumps to the obvious conclusion that she is a ghost – maybe Chinese ghosts like being clean since there was of course Joey Wong’s famous bathing scene in A Chinese Ghost Story. In fact, there is lots of mass confusion all around this film – the six youngsters think she is a mass murderer (and perhaps she is) and that Chin is her intended thirteenth, Chin Han’s fiancé (Irene Chan) thinks he has fallen for this shameless city girl and everybody thinks they can sing whenever they darn well feel like it. Throw in a playful female duel to the musical accompaniment of “Golden Swallow” and the slowest shark attack in recorded history and you have a mildly amusing film that is all fluff and no fiber and but easy to digest fluff for sure (if you like this kind of thing of course!).
Wu Chia-hsiang, who was a character actor in many of the Cathay and Shaw films, directs this with an easy going hand and doesn't even try too hard to inject any real drama into it. He was born in Beijing in 1919 and first began acting on the stage during the war. He moved to Hong Kong in 1945 and began working for a number of small film companies until he joined Cathay in 1957 where he became one of their more familiar character actors. He had tried his hand at assistant director a few times, but his director debut was “Father and Son” in 1963. He joined Shaw Brothers in 1965 as both an actor and director. He died in 1993. He shows up as a film director near the end of this movie.
The music is really quite enjoyable if you are at all inclined towards the Mandarin pop of that time – a mix of ballads and more up-tempo songs that have a definite Western influence. None of them are choreographed beyond a few hip shakes and a little twisting away. I lost count of how many songs there were because they break out constantly – there is a fish song when they eat fish (“steam fish, fried fish, fish soup”), a break-up song, a what a wonderful town this is song, a aren’t you so cool song – instead of talking, people prefer singing and I am quite glad they did. Jenny Hu appeared in a number of Shaw musicals but I believe her singing was always dubbed. I only wish some of these Shaw and Cathay musical soundtracks were coming out on CDs because I'd love to own a few - this being one.

My rating for this film: 7.0