|China Dolls (1992)|
|Director:||Yeung Chi Kin|
|Writers:||Brian Chung Wai Hung and Yeung Chi Kin|
|Starring:||Amy Yip, Charlie Cho, and Wu Ma|
|The Plot: China Dolls tells the story of a young wife named May (played by Amy Yip) who is put in an awful position almost immediately after the birth of her first child. While breastfeeding her baby, one of her husband’s delinquent business partners peeps in on her. This leads to an altercation between May’s husband and the previously mentioned delinquent. The husband ends up killing the peeping gangster, and this puts the newly formed family on the run from both a collection of criminals as well as the local police. After leaving the mainland, the family is stopped by two cops in Hong Kong and the young husband is shot dead by one of the police officers (played by veteran actor Lam Ching Ying). As things progress from bad to worse, May’s child is taken from her by the Hong Kong government. May sets herself up as a maid working in a hotel, but she quickly hears about a gainful form of employment in Macau. May finds herself traveling by boat with some of her co-workers, but the trip goes from being a dream-come-true to being a living nightmare in a very short amount of time. May is locked away in a cage and forced to work as a prostitute, but all May really wants is to get her child back. Will she ever make enough money in this slave-like position or will her child remain out of her reach forever?|
After the opening sequence, which features the previously mentioned masturbation scene, we follow Amy Yip’s character as she begins her new life away from her child. The film almost immediately begins teasing her distress over this loss, and there is a definite sense of melancholy felt in the movie. Yet, once this character agrees to travel for her new job, we are introduced to some very familiar waters for exploitation fans. We watch as a boat full of young women are lured onto the docks and into an abandoned boat yard. As our ladies are led like lambs to the slaughter, they find themselves in an empty warehouse that is without any form of lighting. When those lights do finally come on, we find that the women are all standing in a massive cage that resembles something one might encounter in either a pro-wrestling match or in a Filipino film produced by Roger Corman. In a classic piece of genre-film pastiche, these women are sprayed down with a massive burst of water from a gigantic fire hose. In true genre-film fashion, of course the women are all mostly wearing white pants and shirts. The camera lingers on and shows off the requisite nudity that can be seen through the transparent clothing, and by this time the audience knows full and well what they are getting into. It is also worth noting that within this classic scene Amy Yip seems to be the only woman who wears dark clothing. Yip is notorious for cleverly hiding her nipples during love scenes. Despite the large size of her bust, and the attention that is continually paid to it, Yip did well to hide herself throughout the majority of her career. She did this to the point where her actions were nicknamed “Yip teases,” taken from one of her own videos. China Dolls is a nice example of the “Yip tease,” but it is also one of Yip’s most accomplished acting performances, and so her aversion to nudity seems to make more sense and somehow lends itself well to the atmosphere of the movie.