Hong Kong Gigolo
David Lam Films Co., Ltd.
Cast: Simon Yam, Alex Man, Mark Cheng, Fung Bo Bo, Meg Lam,
Producer: David Lam
Action Director: Tony Leung Siu Hung         Director: David Lam
Genre: Drama
Length: 95 minutes
Category III
"I don't think your third leg worth $2,000"
The first entry in what would become a mini–franchise for Simon Yam, this 1990 drama details the stressful lives and occupational hazards of professional male gigolos. Though films about prostitution date back to the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, the male equivalent of the profession is a seldom explored topic. Whatever glamour is associated with the image of the gigolo is dually balanced by the harsh realities of a short lived and competitive lifestyle which is carried out in secrecy from family and loved ones..
Hong Kong Gigolo DVD information
Ng Man Tat, Robert Midolleton, Man Siu, Stella Lau,
Shirly Lee, Lin Wai Kin, Mantic Yiu, Angile Leung
Music: Lowell Lo
Writer: James Yuen, Sandy Shiu
Executive Producer: Rose Ma, Sze Yat Fan
David, aka Wai (Simon Yam), a skilled, confident lover serves mostly wealthy, influential older women; his technique in performing various sex positions guarantees to bring every client orgasms. Initially intending to make some quick money and then find another trade, he has lasted for two years in the business, though he tells his family that he’s an insurance salesman. His sister Ming (Meg Lam) is an officer in the police department, whose main duties, ironically, include busting whorehouses.
Alex Man
Mark Cheng
Hong Kong Gigolo
a massage from Mark Cheng
Alex Man plays Horse (as in hung like a…), an aging, divorced, father whose once-legendary virilty has given way to weight gain and erectile dysfunction. His ex-wife has married a rich strait-laced whitey and plans to emigrate with him and her son to America. He struggles to overcome surmounting debts and maintain custody of his beloved young son while concealing his real job from the conservative Hong Kong courts.
Part time aerobics instructor Joe (Mark Cheng), a muscular stud in his prime, is trying to earn money to provide for his girlfriend Susan, a popular university student from an upperclass family. She has no idea that he is a gigolo, whose clients pay him to fulfill rape fantasies, role playing, and other fetishes. His parents long dead, and with no college education or formal training, he has little option but to sell himself.
Paying a commission to their manager, bar owner Maria (Fung Bo Bo), they stuggle to survive in their unusual and controversial trade. Being a gigolo requires far more aptitude than your common prostitute; they have to dress impeccably, make conversation, dance well, have fine manners, be charming, and keep fit… Like being an athlete or a star, gigolos need to train and keep their abilities sharp to keep their clients coming back. Yet all of these things still may not be enough to survive in the gigolo’s risky and unpredictable world..
One of Joe’s clients has a vindictive husband who hires him to videotape rough sex with her. The video is purportedly intended as leverage in a plotted divorce settlement; in fact, the wealthy businessman is really using the tape to frame Joe for her murder. Suspected of the crime, the police investigation prevents Joe from going to Canada with Susan, and exposes his real profession to her and her already disapproving family.
     With regular clients dwindling, Horse accepts some money to hold some drugs for a prostitute, and is immediately arrested for drug trafficking. His luck worsens when a married client comes to his home, but her suspicious hubby, a wealthy bigshot, breaks in with his men and beats him up. Then his son returns home and walks in while they are kicking his ass, and in an incredibly shocking scene of degradation, they force the boy to feed sh*t to his father.
David is fancied by Wilson (Robert Midolleton), a sadistic gwai lo police captain. Though he tells him that he doesn’t serve male clients, Wilson won’t tolerate rejection and harasses him without end. When he finds out that his sister is a cop working under him in his precinct, he prevents her from receiving a long-deserved promotion. Later, he commands her to negotiate with an armed kidnapper rather than wait for the SWAT team to arrive. The criminal shoots out both her legs, which have to be amputated.
Hong Kong Gigolo portrays the profession of male gigolos as dangerous and dehumanizing, in a film as shocking as it is provocative. It opens deceivingly with a peppy pop music theme (ripping the melody from Karyn White’s “The Way You Love Me”), yet the film could hardly be more downbeat and melodramatic.
Which is not to say that Hong Kong Gigolo isn’t entertaining; it may even be the best gigolo film Hong Kong has produced. David Lam’s ‘soap opera’ style of filmmaking keeps the story flowing, smoothly alternating between different subplots and characters; and the main players are given equal time for their character to develop within and outside the central framework.
  On the one hand Hong Kong Gigolo comes off as a   heavy handed attempt to portray the sex trade as a path to heartbreak and ruin. In the case of all three characters, their work keeps them from, and inadverdently harms- the people in their lives whom they most care for. Yet it also raises the issue of human rights, and an individual’s freedom to his choice of lifestyle.
The sympathetic performances from Simon Yam and Mark Cheng are exceptional, each of whom playing younger, less wisened gigolos who haven’t fully learned just how precarious their job can get. Those perils are exemplified, in truly unsubtle fashion, by the veteran gigolo played by Alex Man in a brave stand out performance. A performer who has the distinction of being the only actor I know of who has eaten sh*t twice in his movie career (though in Queen of Gamble, he did so willfully), his character endures some of the worst humiliation I’ve ever seen committed to celluloid, and for Hong Kong films, that’s saying something.
Other aspects of the job, such as acting as an escort, show that being a gigolo can entail more than just sex, making them closer in comparison to Japanese geishas than street walkers. One lonely married woman, neglected by her husband, initially hires Horse merely for companionship. Another narcoleptic client hires David as a surrogate partner for his wife to take over when he conks out during intercourse. Wait, that is sex.
David Lam later made the excellent prostitute drama Girls Without Tomorrow (1992), which would make good companion viewing with Hong Kong Gigolo. As in this film, actress Petrina Fung Bo Bo poignantly plays the ‘Mamasan’, overseeing a Temple Street brothel where her adopted daughter is one of the working girls. Both movies tread that delicate line between melodrama and farce for which Hong Kong is famous, weaving a story that is at once lurid, politically incorrect, and surprisingly compassionate.
Mark Cheng
Alex Man
Simon Yam
Alex Man
Petrina Fung BoBo
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As a demonstration of the double standards at play here, there’s a prominent civil servant who is vocal on human rights ordinances in Hong Kong. She pays David for house call sessions, but ultimately doesn’t respect him as a person.
Related viewing:
Gigolo and Whore (1991)  Simon Yam, Carina Lau
Girls Without Tomorrow (1992) Carina Lau, Fung BoBo, Vivian Chow