Life Is Cheap . . . but Toilet Paper Is Expensive | Chicago Reader

Life Is Cheap . . . but Toilet Paper Is Expensive

A wild, lively effort by Chinese American filmmaker Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing, Dim Sum, Slamdance) that might have been called Two or Three Things I Know About Hong Kong. Like Godard's films in the late 60s, this beautifully shot essayistic poem—putatively a thriller and full of scatological gags and conceits as well as macabre violence and humor—evokes a contemporary city in all its contradictions and paradoxes with a great deal of eclecticism. (The film's full title perfectly captures its jaundiced socioeconomic view and its stylistic irreverence.) The Hong Kong presented here is not only the city we know from films made there (with plenty of in-jokes and guest-star appearances, including Allen Fong as a cabdriver), but also the city that looks forward to joining the Chinese mainland in 1997. A satiric semidocumentary in which the locals periodically address the camera, Wang's shocker also includes one of the longest (and surely the most dizzying) chase sequences ever filmed. Originally saddled with an X rating, this is a grown-up movie without the power of the Hollywood industry behind it, which suggests a freedom that Wang takes full advantage of (1989).

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