Tag Archives: exploitation cinema

Thinking Aloud About Film: Lost Souls (Mou Tun-Fei, Hong Kong, 1980)

 

Mou Tun-Fei goes from the New Wave-y neo-realistic aesthetic of I Didn’t Dare Tell You (Mou Tun-fei, Taiwan, 1969) and The End of the Track (Mou Tun-fei, Taiwan, 1970)and into exploitation territory. Lost Souls is pulpy, dynamic, exciting and exploitative. It’s an exploitation film and it exploits women: they have their clothes taken off, the camera lingers on their bodies, on their degradation, on the sale of these women to whorehouses. The audience, which we assume to be men, is meant to get off on all of this.

Mou Tun-fei is an equal opportunity exploiter and there is also torture and rape of men. The film is clearly highly influenced by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1975 film, Salò: 120 Days of Sodom and we discuss their differences and similarities. We do not agree with Victor Fan’s argument that,  Lost Souls, …. is a shot-for-shot remake in a much more commercial way of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò. He also added an action sequence, which is of course very unlike Pasolini.’

We note influence but also argue that is nowhere near as good, complex, or political. There is a clear homosexaul gaze in Pasolini: he gives more weight to the men. Mou Tun-fei focuses more clearly on the women. Sodom is an archetypal art film of its day, and even begins with a bibliography urging viewers to brush up on De Sade and Barthes! But aside from questions of genre, aesthetics or value, the claim of shot-by-shot simply doesn’t hold up, though we do see a clear influence of the earlier film on the latter.

We also discuss how Lost Souls is unquestionably an exploitation film but not all exploitation films are as effective and as political as Lost Souls; and our discussion lingers on the opening sequence of the boat people and the arrival of one of the escapees onto Hong Kong’s Diamond Hill. We discuss the effectiveness of the crushing disappointment that accompanies the realisation that streets are not paved with gold there and that it is in fact one big, fragile ghetto. A fascinating film, which we recommend.

The podcast may be listened to here:

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

Richard has discovered a fascinating interview with Mou Tun-fei on youtube that can be seen here:

 

José Arroyo