Review: ‘AV’

Four Hong Kong slackers devise an ingenious way to get laid -- use government money to hire a Japanese porn star and fake a film shoot! -- in laid-back character comedy that's alternately sweet and funny, from one of the territory's brightest young talents, Edmond Pang. Film will play best with Asiaphile auds in festival sidebars.

Four Hong Kong slackers devise an ingenious way to get laid — use government money to hire a Japanese porn star and fake a film shoot! — in “AV,” a laid-back character comedy that’s alternately sweet and funny, from one of the territory’s brightest young talents, Edmond Pang. With its easygoing approach and plentiful in-jokes, film will play best with Asiaphile auds in festival sidebars, but there’s no doubting Pang’s continuing vitality in this, his fourth feature.

After the more elaborately plotted shenanigans of Pang’s previous “Beyond Our Ken” and “Men Suddenly in Black,” this is a less-antsy return to the more off-the-wall style of his debut, “You Shoot, I Shoot,” in which a hit man hired a film student to film his assignments. As well as being suffused with cameos by popular character actors (Eric Kot, Cheung Tat-ming, Hui Shiu-hung), “AV” is also very much a product of a film buff-turned-director.

Inspired by the attempt of a movie-nerd friend, Kar-lok (Chui Tien-you), to bed a girl he was crazy over, Band Aid (Derek Tsang, son of thesp Eric), Fatty (Jeffrey Chow), Chi-on (Lawrence Chou) and Jason (Wong You-nam) come up with a similar wheeze. They manage to con $25,000 out of a government loan officer (Kot) to fund a fictitious movie starring adult-video cutie Manami Amamiya (playing herself). The crew is entirely made up of their pals, and Kar-lok accepts to be the director.

After Manami arrives with her manager, not everything goes as planned, but the Japanese seem satisfied and Manami hits her marks. However, Jason, who’s the interpreter in the group, starts spending quality time with Manami, leading to a neat twist to the tale.

There’s not a lot of plot, but the movie gets by on likable playing by the cast, especially Wong as the shy Jason and Amamiya as the porno starlet, for whom it’s all just a job. Amamiya disarmingly mixes girlish charm with quiet professionalism, turning what could have been an off-puttingly sleazy idea into a charming little love story.

Tech package is pro, with no special gloss.

AV

Hong Kong

Production

A Mei Ah Film Production Co. presentation of a Making Films production. (International sales: Mei Ah, Hong Kong.) Produced by Li Kuo-hsing. Executive producers, Patrick Tong, Catherine Hun. Directed by Edmond Pang (Pang Ho-cheung). Screenplay, Pang, Wenders Li, Hiroshi Fukazawa; story, Pang, Li.

Crew

Camera (color), Charlie Lam; editor, Li; music, Wong Ngai-lun, Janet Yung; art director-costume designer, Silver Cheung. Reviewed on videocassette, London, May 1, 2005. (In Udine Far East Film Festival.) Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Wong You-nam, Lawrence Chou, Derek Tsang, Chui Tien-you, Jeffrey Chow, Manami Amamiya, Jim Chim, Eric Kot, Cheung Tat-ming, Chung King-fai, Hui Shiu-hung, Chin Kar-lok, Yan Ng, Monie Tung, Wing Cheung, Yoyo Chan, Bonnie Wong, Tim Youngs. (Cantonese, English, Japanese dialogue)
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