Director: Ho-Cheung Pang
Writer: Ho-Cheung Pang (original story & screenplay), Chiu-Wing Lam (screenplay), Luk Yee-sum (screenplay)
Cast: Chapman To, Kristal Tin, Ronald Cheng, Dada Chan
A veteran film producer, with financial and familial issues, finds himself unwillingly recruited by a triad gang leader into remaking a classic adult film.
With a title like Vulgaria, you can draw yourself a picture of what you can expect from this movie. That being said, there’s are quite a few words to describe this movie, with a few examples being vulgar, out there, absurd, bizarre and—quite honestly in my mind—brilliant. I just happened to come across this movie at the local multiplex and saw that it was playing, so I decided to check it out without much background information on it. All I knew was that it was a Cantonese comedy, and there were a ton of festival selection choices on the poster for it. Boy, was I not prepared for what Vulgaria had in store for me. ￼
The film was quite the pleasant surprise of a comedy. It’s unique in a couple of ways. First off is that it actually opened up to a forewarning for the audience as to what was in store for them, as well as actually employing an opening credits sequence. Secondly, the style in which Vulgaria is filmed gave it a mockumentary feel, and at certain points, the movie does break the fourth wall. I find that there isn’t a lot of use for fourth wall breaking in most films since it’s a difficult component to throw in, but with the plot and comedic nature of this film, it blended in seamlessly and added to the hilarity of the movie. As a comedy, itself, Vulgaria is filled with some great gags and jokes, all framed within a film seminar hosted by the lead character, played by Chapman To. ￼
What really makes Vulgaria work is the story it tells. Chapman To plays the lead character of Wai Cheung To, a down on his luck film producer whose financial and family life are in dire straits, but despite that, winds up being an incredibly likable character. He genuinely comes off as a good guy who continually finds himself in tough situations because of the people who he associates with. Everyone in this movie really pushes him around, and it’s not as if he’s a pushover because he does have a good reason to do be doing all that he does—more on that later. As for the rest of the cast, they’re a colourful bunch, and much like Wai Cheung To, they’re all pretty likable, despite their own faults. The entire cast and the story are what carries the film’s story and jokes. ￼
The biggest reason I came to love this movie is that, for all its raunchy and adult humour, the film still manages to have some heart to it. For all the problems that Wai Cheung To faces, he goes through it for his daughter. The family aspect of his character is what I found fascinating, because it’s hard to imagine why his wife married him, but easy to understand why she divorced him, and their daughter is caught in the middle. The father/daughter dynamic of the film is what helps drive the film forward and keeps things rolling along. It’s also a source for some of the film’s funnier jokes and sweeter moments. Wai Cheung To isn’t a perfect father, and the movie makes no attempt at giving an argument that he is, but what Vulgaria does do for his character is show that he is a genuinely loving and caring father. ￼
There really isn’t much to not like about the movie if you’re into it, but by that same admission, this isn’t for everyone. If you’re not into the mockumentary feel of the movie, the story it tells, or the characters themselves, I can’t really say this is a movie for you. The only fault I had with the movie is that there are a couple of secondary characters that I’ve forgotten along the way with no resolution to their storylines, but that’s really stretching it because I absolutely loved everything else.
Vulgaria is a great time to be had when you watch it. It is hilarious from start to finish with a ton of gags that are quite out there. Every joke hits its mark for me, and every character had their time to shine and had at least one memorable moment. Despite all its crude and lewd humour, the film does have its sweet moments and it ends up being a nice blend of the two. If this movie is playing in your city, go check it out.
GO Rating: 4/5 ￼