Mo toi ji mui
Mandarin: Wu tai jie mei
English: Stage Sisterhood
The all-female Hsiao Ho Chun opera company suffers from both declining audiences
for their art form and turmoil within the troupe. Differences in opinion about
the content of future productions and the addition of conceited diva Yen-hsieh
(Kara Hui Ying-hung) only churns the waters further. Yen-hsieh is known for
her performances in martial plays and declares that none of the other actresses
is worthy of appearing on-stage with her. This leads to much in-fighting and
ego-bruising but of greater urgency is local triad leader Changs preoccupation
with Hsiao-hsuen (Lai Yin-san). When Chang (Lau Siu-ming) tries to have his
way with her, Lu Tung-tang (who has been undermining the gangster's opium
operation in an attempt to help his fellow countrymen remain strong) tries
to intercede and a fight breaks out. Perturbed over this loss of face and
threat to his empire, Chang targets Lu (Waise Lee Chi-hung) and his men, and
this creates potentially dangerous consequences for the troupe as some of
the members have grown close to this valiant group of reformers.
Jackie Chan produced the picture utilizing settings originally constructed
for his period mega-production MIRACLES. Unfortunately, STAGE DOOR JOHNNY
(a title that makes no sense in context) plays like it was conceived at breakneck
speed for no other reason than to take advantage of these opulent backdrops.
The screenplay tries to cram in far too much, resulting in a surplus of hollow
melodrama: Yen-hsieh's character is pregnant and she agonizes over whether
to abort the child, Lam Ching-ying's musician is terminally ill with TB, years
of drinking is taking its toll on Ann Mui Oi-fong's actress, etc. In an attempt
to save Mui, a supporting player sacrifices his life in a gesture that rings
false because insufficient time has been devoted to him beforehand. In trying
to develop so many characters in just 94 minutes (Idy Chan Yuk-lin and Wong
Yuk-wan also have their own subplots), while also hoping to satisfy the action
crowd (Chan's stunt team handles the acrobatics), the film plays more like
a collection of highlights than a cohesive narrative. It is an attractive
production (the Peking Opera costumes look dazzling) and the performers are
committed, but this issue and a very weak finale make it a difficult movie
to recommend. Wu Ma (who also directed), Ken Lo Wai-kwong, Chung Fat, Feng
Sing (aka Mars), and Lam Chung are among the supporting cast.
Cover art courtesy Deltamac.
|Deltamac #DVD78117 (Hong Kong
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)
Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional
6 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Video Grabs
Coded for ALL Regions
Contains moderate violence
DVD menu courtesy
BOARD RATINGS AND CONSUMER ADVICE
Australia: M 15+ (Occasional Violence)
British Columbia: MATURE (Some Violence)
Hong Kong: II
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]
The 4:3 letterbox transfer is very colorful
and pleasing to the eye, with little wear on the print, and the sound is fine.
The only extra is a promo spot for the Star Movies channel. Thanks to a labelling
error, some copies in Deltamac's first pressing of STAGE DOOR JOHNNY actually
contained FOREVER YOUNG, one of Nat Chan Pak-cheung's "Chasing Girls"
films. Alas, there does not seem to be a way of telling the corrected version
from the earlier release, outside of purchasing the disc.
STAGE DOOR JOHNNY is
available at Poker Industries.
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© John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.