Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #170 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES July 28th, 2003

My Name Ain't Suzie
(1985; Shaw Brothers)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Fa gaai si doi
Mandarin: Hau jie shi dai
English: Times on Flower Street

The 1960 Paramount production THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG did not exactly present the most accurate portrait of HK prostitutes and, based on its choice of English title, one expects this Shaw Brothers effort to be the anti-thesis of that Hollywood whitewash. While it is far more gritty, MY NAME AIN’T SUZIE ultimately stops short of true verisimilitude. In 1958, young Shui-mei (Pat Ha Man-chik) and her family live an impoverished existence in a fishing community. After unwillingly losing her virginity to a trio of sailors, she finagles her way into a group of teenage girls chosen by Madam Monie (Betty Ting Pei) to work as prostitutes at the Lucky Bar in Wanchai. The majority of clients are Western sailors, whom the women find smelly and generally repulsive, but money flows freely and everyone benefits. Shui-mei is attracted to handsome Eurasian badboy Jimmy (Anthony Wong Chau-sang, in his film debut), who is obsessed with finding the American that impregnated and abandoned his mother. The club's manager (Angela Yu Chien) regards Jimmy as her property but Shui-mei openly defies her, resulting in a hair-pulling fight. Now persona non grata at Lucky Bar, Shui-mei decides to strike out on her own but the timing is bad: Jimmy finds his father and promptly leaves the country, forcing her out on the street. After suffering some local triad harassment, Shui-mei strikes a deal with gang boss Sister Ying (Deanie Yip Tak-han) and sets up her own hostess business. However, when the Vietnam war ends, the American soldiers stop coming and Wanchai swiftly goes into decline.

Angela Chan On-kei (a little known New Wave director who only made three pictures before switching to commercials) strives for a kind of fanciful realism, largely bypassing exploitation elements and the day-to-day unpleasantness hookers have to deal with. Also, the inevitable violence is presented in a less realistic and far more matter-of-fact way than a male director like Kuei Chi-hung or Ho Meng-hua would likely have showcased it. The film's goals are modest, with John Chan Koon-chung's script offering a slice-of-life scenario that extends only a token allotment of character development. Five years later, Lawrence Ah Mon's QUEEN OF TEMPLE STREET would be more ambitious and successful on this front but SUZIE is consistently watchable and benefits from some fine performances. The always intriguing Pat Ha received a Best Actress nomination for her work and she inhabits the various stages of the role quite convincingly. The "tomboy" overseer nicely essayed by Deanie Yip (who netted the Best Supporting Actress prize for her performance) may well have inspired Sandra Ng Kwan-yu's Sister 13 in the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS series, and Anthony Wong (whose Caucasian father abandoned him in real life) is charismatic as a troubled James Dean-wannabe who is simply not the right man for Shui-mei. In a bit of foreshadowing, Category III perennial Charlie Cho Cha-lei has a small part as a randy club patron, while Lam Chung also appears briefly in a characteristically villainous role.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Pat Ha. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Pat Ha and Anthony Wong. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #613029 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (1.83:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

96 Minutes

Contains moderate violence, implied sexual violence, brief nudity and mature themes

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

Much of the film (which was shot by British DP Bob Huke) has an intentionally soft focus appearance but the transfer appears accurate and, as usual, all wear has been meticulously removed. While the Cantonese track preserves the voice of Anthony Wong (billed here as Anthony Perry), surface noise can be heard during quieter moments, making the Mandarin version a better option. The original theatrical trailer and a video spot for the movie are included, along with a gallery of behind-the-scenes and publicity photos, the original poster (a sexy Pat Ha pose that is presented in cropped form on the DVD cover), and bilingual bios. There are also additional promos for NOTORIOUS EIGHT, THE KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS, and INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN CITY.

is available at Poker Industries.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com