Bachelors Beware
Hong Kong 1960
Directed by Evan Yang.

Ding Xiaoyuan (Linda Lin Dai)is a mainland village girl heading to Hong Kong in the hopes of marrying her childhood sweetheart Zhengguang (Chang Yang), not knowing that he's just into playing the scene these days and thinks of her as still a child. She despairs, but decides instead to pick herself up by the bootstraps and take on all three of his other girlfriends until she is the only one left standing. At least that's the plan, and it works at first, until he announces his engagement -- to someone else! -- and pretty soon she isn't the only one testing other's resolve.

Bachelors Beware is right, as Zhangguang blithely wanders through one incident after another, not knowing he is being ensnared in a devious web leading to marriage. Well, maybe that's not the most positive spin to put on the proceedings, but let's face it -- the basic premise of this film is that Xiaoyuan is going to get her man, no matter what. And actually, it's pretty enjoyable fluff.

There are a couple songs, though no one breaks out into song. The songs play more like a chorus, describing the scene, for example when Xiaoyuan first arrives in Hong Kong:

This is a nice place
They call it heaven on earth
By day its an enormous market
By night its an abode of tenderness
Tenderness, tenderness abode

Another song plays over a swimsuit competition that abruptly appears at the end, with lines like, "She how beautiful she is," and "Everyone is leaning forward to get a better view." I'll say they are, though the swimsuits cover more skin than casual wear does nowadays, Linda Lin Dai still looks pretty fabulous in one.

BACHELORS BEWARE seems to skim along dangerous subjects, like premarital sex with multiple partners, but in the end everyone still behaves as if it never happens. When Xiaoyuan first arrives at Zhengguang's house, he is hosting a party in a room in which all the lights are turned off. Music plays, he mixes drinks with abandon, smoke curls up and fills the room, silhouettes hold each other tightly. To add to the degenerate air there is a man lying on the couch playing with a doll. They "don't care about the things outside," he explains. It looks all the world like party rooms in movies like REEFER MADNESS, but apparently it's just a lot of chaste drinking and smoking cigarettes and dancing. Occasionally, there's a kiss on the cheek. The movie refuses to take any of this seriously, and after that first scene our hero is pretty much a good boy who likes to date a lot, and shapes up to be a good catch.

BACHELORS BEWARE resolutely steers clear of anything even remotely thoughtful, but that doesn't make it entirely bad. It's a romantic comedy, nothing more, nothing less, and is certainly enjoyable in that frame of mind.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on September 02, 2005.

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