Escape from Brothel

Director: Johnny Wang
Year: 1992

To be honest Escape from Brothel is a bit of a schizophrenic hoot that I enjoyed quite a bit. It jumps around from sex exploitation film to slapstick comedy to melodrama to sadistic violence to brutal action like a freewheeling pinball with no rhythm or reason. One minute a transvestite peeper in the women’s locker room, the next hung up like a piece of meat and being strangled. You try not to think about it too much and just go along with the ride. Director Johnny Wang is best known as an action actor, showing up in loads of Shaw Brother films, almost always as the heavy, but I notice in looking at his small filmography as a director that he was behind two other low budget action films that I quite enjoyed – Widow Warriors and The Innocent Interloper. So even though Escape from Brothel is known primarily as a Cat III bump and grind show, the action is very solid and very rough. As is the sex now that I think about it.

Pauline Chan doesn’t even get through the opening credits before she has to show her money makers to the audience and the same goes for her co-actress Murakami Rena who stares at her nude reflection in a mirror in the same way I look through a window at an Indian buffet – with pure delight. Hung (Pauline) and Ann (Rena) are practitioners of the noble art of making a man happy – in other words prostitutes. They work for Mama Suzi (veteran actress Pak Yan) who introduces them to Mr. Chou (Stuart Ong) one night as an airline hostess and a secretary who need a little spare cash. He happily obliges and takes them both for the Charlie Sheen like price of HKD 50,000. He brings along a sex book so that he doesn’t forget what to do – sort of like Sarah Palin having to write “Energy” on her hand so she won’t forget what she is supposed to say – a cheat sheet of sorts. Among his bag of tricks is the “Pushing 2 Carts” position followed by “Graceful Ladies Sitting Like Buddha” and finally “Hero Raising Arms to Drum” Exhausting work for all. Later when he realizes that the two girls are just ordinary low paid working girls, he reaps his revenge by having the two girls work each other over with a baseball bat – internally if you get my drift.

Hung has a boyfriend Sam (Alex Fong) back in the Mainland who has no idea what she is doing – but this changes when he is tricked by some friends to sneak into Hong Kong and participate in a phony robbery/insurance scam. Everything goes wrong though with a foreigner being killed and Sam on the run – not just from the cops but also from Billy Ho (Billy Chow) who set the whole thing up and now wants to clean up the entire mess. We were earlier introduced to Billy in one of Hong Kong’s more infamous action scenes. He is in bed with Sophia Crawford (one of the gwielo action actresses who came to HK in the 80’s and 90’s for work) when her “husband” and a friend come in and demand payment. Not from Billy Chow – one of the really terrific underrated action figures of this period – he demolishes the two men and then has to deal with a nude leg kicking Sophia. I wish I had been a fly on the wall for that scene. Sam shows up at Hung’s apartment and hides in the closet only to realize very quickly what his girlfriend does for a living – in the most graphic of ways – but Billy tracks him down leading to a simply splendid furious final fifteen minutes of pounding, gutting, burning, falling and more pounding. Good to the last drop.

My rating for this film: 7.0