Pure and the Evil, The
Hong Kong 1982
Directed by Chin Hai-Lin.

The story of two friends: May (Tai Liang-chun), aka "the pure", a good girl with rich parents and all the social advantages; and Rose (Chen Pei-hsi), aka "the evil", a girl with divorced parents who grew up taken care of by her older sister, a call girl. They are close, but May is going to the states, so Rose does a little nightclub work to earn a fancy dress for her. While May is gone, Rose becomes a nightclub girl full time, and meets a guy who doesn't seem to mind too much, and soon they are to be married. But at the last minute he gets cold feet, and Rose accidentally, er, kills him.

It's a bit of an odd trajectory for her life, because after working in the nightclub, and killing her husband to be, she enters a beauty pageant. Given the nature of the Hong Kong press, it defies all belief that they wouldn't figure that out and splash it all over page one of every tabloid. In any event soon May returns from the states with a sexy boyfriend (Liu Yung) in tow, and the old adage "two's company, but three's a crowd" gets heavily underscored.

Rose and May remain friends, but are never able to bridge the social and ethical gap that separates them. And actually, when you get right down to it, the only thing that separates them is sex. Rose has it, May doesn't, until she gets married. Rose does it for money, she does it for fun, she does it for love, she does it when she's down. May, again, just does it for her husband. This story never would have been such a tragedy if May would have relaxed a bit and let Rose hop into bed with them. Who said three's a crowd, anyway? Just get a bigger bed!

If nothing else, THE PURE AND THE EVIL should swear you off from getting a tattoo, after first watching the gory application of the tattoo, we also get to see the gory operation to remove the tattoo and replace the flesh with some extra flesh from her left buttock.

A lot of nudity early in the film, not much later. The shower scene on the cover? Nope. Never happens.

The story stays interesting throughout, leading up to a hella surprise ending that has to be seen to be believed.

The lead actresses didn't appear in many movies, and its no wonder, neither of them are particularly compelling. It's the one problem with the production. If someone else, say, Cherie Cheung, played the part of Rose instead of Chen Pei-hsi, the movie would be greatly improved. As it is, the characterizations are somewhat lacking and the production suffers as a result.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on October 21, 2005.

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