Trouble Couple

Director: Eric Tsang
Year: 1987

Talk about an Idol gangbang – the Happy Troupe Girls meets the Grasshoppers in a wonderfully amusing teenage romp with Anita Mui and Eric Tsang trying to be the adults in the class – good luck. At the time of the film The Grasshoppers hadn’t really found fame yet but were soon to become one of Hong Kong’s biggest boy bands. They formed in 1982 but it wasn’t until 1985 when they had a stroke of luck while winning the New Talent Singing contest. Anita Mui, who was a judge, took a liking to them and asked them to be her back-up dancers and perform in concert with her. In a sweet musical montage, they are shown performing with Anita on stage. As far as I can tell The Happy Troupe Girls were a group of some very adorable teenage actresses who were starring in a number of teenage romantic comedies (often produced by Cinema City) - Fennie Yuen, May Lo, Charlene Chan, Ann Bridgewater and Loletta Lee - and a combination of them often appeared together in films like The Happy Ghost series or Fantasy Island. They are like little kittens in a box – you just want to take them home.

All of this cuteness in one film may seem like overkill but to my surprise the film is actually quite funny at times – good sight gags, excellent comic timing and witty dialogue that someone took the trouble to translate very well into the English subs. On top of this throw in a number of cameos from actors like Sandra Ng, Shing Fui-on, Wong Jing, Clarence Ford (director of Naked Killer), Ha Ping, Wu Fung, Charlie Cho, Hui Ying Ying (a veteran actress with credits going back to 1955), Fung Ging-man (with credits going back to 1937!), Helena Law Lan and Ann Mui (Anita’s sister). It is the kind of film that 20-years later you can simply enjoy for the actors involved. Tsang directed this towards the end of his very successful stay at Cinema City.

Anita plays Tai, the older sister and proxy mother to her three much younger sisters – keeping a roof over their head with her restaurant business and keeping a wary eye on their innocense when the inevitable suitors come round. She is every young sister’s nightmare – a harridan, a grouch, a slashing tongue and apparently on the verge of becoming a mean spirited spinster. When an older employer makes approaches to one of the sisters, Tai scares him off and says to her “losing your job is better than losing your virginity and ruining your life” The young sisters (Fennie Yuen, Charlene Chan and Ann Bridgewater) just want to have fun and romance and they find it easily – Yee (Ann) with a radio DJ (Matthew Wong) and Sam (Charlene) and Sai (Fennie) with three classmates at high school (the Grasshoppers – Calvin Choi, Remus Choi and Edmund So) – they just have to sort out which two of them get the two girls!

But there is a snag – big sister – so the solution is of course to find her a man – a complete loser who would want to be with her and so they go looking for someone committing suicide. They think they find their man (Eric) as they see him break up with his girlfriend (Sandra) who has found more security with a gangster (Shing Fui-on) who has made her mother a bookie and her uncle a heroin dealer. They talk him into courting their sister though he has reservations – she is a ‘laundry board” – but who else will have him. Along with the help of the girls and the boys he launches on a gargantuan plan of courtship that will have him pretending to be a mob boss, a lover in the rain, stabbed in the stomach, pretending to have had sex with Tai and so on. All is fair in love and war and this is closer to war than love. But it is all in goofy fun with enough cuteness to curl your toes.

My rating for this film: 7.5

Bigger screen captures here.