Girl$ (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 3, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Girl$” is a fascinating look at prostitution (compensated dating) in Hong Kong and showcasing the dangers that are out there for these young women. An intriguing Hong Kong film and a storyline you just don’t see that often, “Girl$” is stylish and entertaining and a film worth watching.
FILM RELEASE: 2010
DURATION: 90 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition,Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Giant Ape Media/FUNimation Entertainment/Mei Ah
RATED: NR (Film contains nudity)
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Directed by Kenneth Bi
Written by Carol Cheong, Link Ling, Frankie Tam, Maria Wong
Produced by Kin Hung Ng
Edited by Kenneth Bi
Michelle Wai as Icy
Seli Xian as Ronnie
Venus Wong as Gucci
Una Lin as Lin
Kwok Cheung Tsang as Chun
Four girls – tempted by the money that can be earned in prostitution -meet men on “paid dates” in Hong Kong and enjoy the thrills and money to the fullest. However, after some time, each of them will have to learn in her own way that nothing comes without a price.
From filmmaker Kenneth Bi (director of “Rice Rhapsody” and “The Drummer”) comes a sexual drama titled “Girl$”. Written by Carol Cheong, Link Ling, Frankie Tam and Maria Wong, the film explores Hong Kong’s prostitution environment, or in politically correct terms in Hong Kong, “compensated dating” and how one’s temptation to earn money can lead them to trouble.
And now the film will be released in the USA in April courtesy of FUNimation’s Giant Ape Media.
The film begins with how these prostitutes solicit their services via the Internet on various message boards. While we see prostitute having fun, one prostitute is killed and dismembered.
The film introduces us to four women.
Icy (portrayed by Michelle Wai, “Hot Summer Days”, “Mr. & Mrs. Gambler”) is a 19-year-old woman who is responsible for “booking” working girls through the Internet. She does it to keep her boyfriend happy, an avid PC gamer who is not having much luck finding a job. But because his gaming requires expensive equipment, Icy tries to work as a procuress in order to purchase these gifts.
But trying to find women to do the sexual services without her having to do it is important for Icy as she only has Lin (portrayed by Una Lin), to go out on calls.
Icy tries to recruit the young Gucci (portrayed by Venus Wong, “High Noon”) as a prostitute, but since she’s underage and a virgin. Gucci wants to do it, so she can pay for a Gucci bag, she impulsively bid and won in an online auction. Meanwhile, Ronnie (portrayed by Bonnie Xian, “Break Up Club”, “The Moss”) is a wealthy woman who doesn’t need the money ,but for some reason, wants to be loved. So, she becomes a prostitute, but she does it and never takes the money given to her.
But as these four women try to live the good life and make money, Icy ends up having to go out on a call and doesn’t know she’s being videotaped but to make things worse, will her desire for money put her friends in danger?; Lin’s promiscuous ways leads her to trouble; Gucci starts to realize that a guy she communicates on the Internet for possible sex may be someone she knows very well and for Ronnie, her attitude on the jobs may affect the other girls’ business.
And through experience, these young women will learn that the business they work in, may lead them to trouble.
“Girl$” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The film tries to utilize pop culture with its look and music, but the film tries to capture Hong Kong city lights and street culture. There is a lot of sources for the video, with some using intentional low-source onscreen computer captures and also experimental editing. But for the most part, the film is clean and some scenes looking much better than others. Skin detail can be seen on some closeups but the film looks good, and since shot primarily indoors, lighting is good and I didn’t notice any major artifacts.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Girl$” is presented in Cantonese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue and music driven. Not many instances where you would hear surround sound usage on this film as many scenes are isolated indoors. But for the most part, lossless audio is clear and English subtitles are easy to read.
“Girl$” comes with seven two-minute features that go into the actresses discussing their characters, the sex scenes and brief making of the film.
“Girl$” comes with a slipcover. Plus a DVD version of the film is included.
“Girl$” is a rather fascinating film as it delves into prostitution in Hong Kong.
Personally, I never knew that in Hong Kong, people solicit sex through online message boards and where in America, you usually think there’s a pimp behind-the-scenes, I suppose in Hong Kong, any person can be a procuress as they handle the services for these young women and try to place them with men, who they keep records on.
But there is no doubt that Kenneth Bi’s film is intended to show the dangers of prostitution to young audiences. Considering that prostitution is now not only focusing on women, but now young women under 21 years-old including teenagers.
From its opening scenes of the underworld and a young woman being murdered and dismembered, we are introduced to four young ladies who try or are working in the prostitution (compensated dating) world. I suppose in Hong Kong, the women can pick and choose which men they want to service.
For the procuress Icy, she’s a normal woman dating a nerdy gamer who can’t get a job. But she loves him and tries to make him happy by giving him the hardware he needs to be a major PC gamer. And I have read about this in various Asian newspapers of how many guys get drawn into video gaming and it becomes an obsession that they can’t escape from it. For Icy, she just feels its important for her to make money to keep their relationship strong.
The problem is, she is losing women and her last prostitute Silver (who is actually the person we see being dismembered) is nowhere to be found. So, she does all she can to make money and depend on more female participants to service these men, because she needs the money. But how far will she go? And will she care for these other women’s well-being by placing them with men.
Meanwhile, Lin is the most sexual of the women. Living this lifestyle and taking on these jobs, the thing is that her promiscuous lifestyle can lead her to major trouble.
We also see Ronnie as the wealthy woman engaged in prostitution. Sounds like a story that came out of an American newspaper, I suppose it’s possible anywhere else. Just a person enjoying the thrill, despite how wealthy she is.
But the person that represents the normal teenager is Gucci. She’s a girl who likes brand name things but when she and her friend go home to work on the computer, she catches her brother looking at porn sites. And by looking at these message boards, she learns that people solicit themselves for sex for big money and in her mind, this is possibly the way she can get the money to buy her Gucci purse.
The film is presented in a slick, stylish way and for the most part, the film is quite entertaining, but also makes you want to see if any of these girls live at the end. I wasn’t quite sure if the storyline would transition into something more darker or macabre. But “Girl$” manages to keep things real and situations featured on the film can happen to any girl who partakes in prostitution.
Since “Viva Erotica”, I don’t think I have ever seen a film that dealt with the sex, sex simulation and showcase nudity such as”Girl$”. While it’s not anything too major when compared to American films, it’s a style of film you don’t see being released in the US. And although licensed by FUNimation, the Blu-ray showcases the Giant Ape Media and Mei Ah Entertainment logo.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good and there are scenes with good detail. Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music driven and special features are numerous but quite short at around two minutes each.
Overall, “Girl$” is a fascinating look at prostitution (compensated dating) in Hong Kong and showcasing the dangers that are out there for these young women. An intriguing Hong Kong film and a storyline you just don’t see that often, “Girl$” is stylish and entertaining and a film worth watching.
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